Measure to overhaul police oversight continues to advance toward November ballot

Measure to overhaul police oversight continues to advance toward November ballot

The City Council on Tuesday advanced a potential ballot measure that would overhaul San Diego’s police oversight board, giving the group the ability to conduct independent investigations into alleged officer misconduct, among other powers.

The unanimous decision green-lights talks with the city’s unions in preparation for placement on the November ballot in 2020 — one of the final steps in a months-long vetting process. Last year, a similar measure that proposed changes to the city’s oversight board was scuttled before unions could review the proposal.

San Diego police Detective Jack Schaeffer, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, said he couldn’t estimate how long the process would take but added the group is ready to come to the table to discuss the proposal.

“We’ve been supportive of oversight, at least as long as I’ve been around, and who does it really doesn’t matter a whole lot to us as long as it’s done well and within the law,” Shaeffer said.

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At the Tuesday meeting, dozens of people from across San Diego County and several council members voiced their support for the measure.

“My goal is to bring policies forward that are fair — that promote trust and transparency between community and police officers,” Councilwoman Monica Montgomery said. “This is not the end-all, be-all in this area. We have so much work left to do, but I do believe it’s a bridge that will help us get to where we need to be.”

The Community Review Board on Police Practices — charged with reviewing allegations of police misconduct, officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths — has long fueled debate. Critics say the volunteer board lacks the power and independence to do its job effectively, while proponents say the group works well because of its relationship with police, not despite it.

The measure would effectively scrap the current board and replace it with a new one called the Commission on Police Practices.

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Currently, the oversight board is tasked with evaluating the most serious complaints against San Diego police officers and all officer-involved shootings and police-related deaths. It does this by reviewing the department’s internal investigations into those complaints — not by conducting its own investigation into the matter.

Conversely, the new commission would be required to independently investigate all police-related deaths and officer-involved shootings. It would also have the ability to independently investigate other complaints made against officers, if it so chooses.

The new board would be independent of the mayor and the Police Department and have legal counsel and subpoena powers. It would also have the ability to hire its own policy analysts to evaluate department procedures and review disciplinary actions for police officers before they are imposed.

According to the city’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, the new commission would likely cost between $1.1 million and $2.3 million annually. The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board, the county’s police oversight board that also has investigatory and subpoena powers, has an annual budget of just over $1 million.

The measure was proposed by Women Occupy San Diego, a social justice group that has been working for years to overhaul the city’s oversight board.

Published at Tue, 05 Nov 2019 17:04:00 +0000

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