Tuesday, July 10, 2018

[SDCPJ] Press release Fwd: San Diego tells Rules Committee We Need a Commission on Police Practices


From: Anne Barron <barronsings@gmail.com>
Date: July 10, 2018 at 8:46:12 PM PDT
Subject: Fwd: San Diego tells Rules Committee We Need a Commission on Police Practices
Reply-To: barronsings@gmail.com


Press Release


July 10, 2018

For more information contact:

Andrea St Julian   Tel. (858) 792-6366 | Fax (858) 792-6069 | astjulian@san.rr.com

Anne Barron   Tel. (619) 836-2494 |barronsings@gmail.com



Rules Committee to Hear Final Arguments for

A City Charter Amendment to Establish

an Independent Commission on Police Practices


What: Rules Committee, San Diego City Council

When:  Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 1PM

Where:  City Hall @ 202 C Street, 10th floor


The ballot measure that would amend the City Charter to replace the current Community Review Board on Police Practices with an independent Commission on Police Practices is again before the Rules Committee of the City Council.  The proposal by Women Occupy San Diego has strong community and organizational support, with over 30 allies. However, community members are anticipating strong law enforcement push-back as in past efforts. At tomorrow's Committee meeting, residents affected by police misbehavior will be making a strong case to allow voters to decide on an independent Commission.   Women Occupy San Diego, the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, Black Men United, the NAACP and other justice organizations will speak about the context and community need for transparency and independence. This time, City Council should let the voters of San Diego decide on what community oversight should look like.


If this feels like deja vu, it is.  Women Occupy San Diego (WOSD) authored a similar proposal in 2015, to provide more tools and power to the existing Citizen Review Board (CRB).  That Board was enacted in 1989 in response to community concerns about police brutality.. The police came out to support the weaker ballot question, which placed the Board directly under the supervision of the Mayor and the San Diego Police Department Internal Affairs.  This was and is a clear conflict of interest. Another conflict was the reliance of the Board on the City Attorney, who also defends SDPD against lawsuits. The 2016 proposal by WOSD for an strong community oversight board was watered down by the then City Council, and these conflicts continues.


The Police Officer Association stated in a letter to the Clairmont City Council that "First and foremost, the Citizen Review Board (CRB) is effective as is."  This isn't the reality for too many people, and especially for people in marginalized communities.  Stephanie Jennings experienced the reality of the CRB dependence on police reports after an illegal arrest during the Occupy days at City Hall.  "After my wrongful arrest by SDPD in which I was treated abominably, I realized that complaints needed to be filed by me and others wrongfully arrested.  At that time the CRB claimed they had no record of our complaints. Only those able to file lawsuits against the city ever received any kind of justice. In my case the City Attorney dropped the charges & agreed to a settlement."  


Many civil rights organizations and advocates have pointed out that the dependence of a citizen board on the police to investigate the police only breeds mistrust.  This is especially problematic when that department has a higher than average number of officer-involved shootings for a city of similar size and a proven track record of racial profiling.  The President of the San Diego Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) stresses this in the supporting letter he wrote to the Rules Committee:

"We believe that trust in the San Diego Police Department cannot be restored without a truly independent investigation into potential police misconduct."  

Dr. André Branch, President, NAACP San Diego Branch.


The Grand Jury agrees.  Its May 2018 Report on the CRB stated, " the CRB performs a valuable function, but needs revised operational procedures."  It chastised the city for its delay in implementing Proposition G and noted strong community support for an independent agency.  WOSD can testify that many people facing police misconduct do not file a complaint with the CRB because as one victim who prefers to be anonymous said, "it won't do any good, and because the form is too long, and because the police investigate the complaint themselves".  


Good public safety requires a high level of mutual trust and respect.  Police have power; such power requires oversight. All officers serve the public better when able to engage with residents using best practices.  Women Occupy believes that trust must be earned and can be with proper oversight. We met with all stakeholders over the past two years, to find a common ground where community would also have a seat at the table of justice.  Official concerns over the so-called Police Bill of Rights were addressed through a subpoena power only for civilians. The new Chief of Police has voiced a policy of openness and transparency.  We expect that he will offer the same openness and transparency to the Commission if approved, including access to his officers.

Economic concerns were noted.  While there will be expenses for the independent investigators and legal counsel, we believe that a strong Commission will reduce the millions the City pays annually to settle lawsuits due to SDPD misconduct.


The community wants this amendment placed on the November 2018 ballot as written because it fosters trust in the functioning and outcomes of citizen oversight by doing the following:

  1. Creating an independent commission with independent legal counsel (independence is key to creating trust.);

  2. Giving the new commission the authority to conduct its own investigations and giving it the ability to do so through the retention of expert investigators and policy analysts;

  3. Giving it the power to subpoena civilian witnesses and all relevant documents;

  4. Requiring it to regularly make public it findings and recommendations.

Read the Charter Amendment Here https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/8e9d04d9-326a-4b28-8d5e-0beb37d1069a

This is a Press Release from Women Occupy San Diego

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