The city of San Diego’s board responsible for reviewing police misconduct cases needs reform and more transparency, San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria told NBC 7 Investigates Tuesday.
Gloria said San Diego County’s version of the board, the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) is more transparent and works better.
“Some of the things that have stood out to me was the ability to subpoena information and individuals have a more direct access to information,” Gloria said. “The county does that and they seem to be comfortable with it. We don’t have that at the city.”
The city of San Diego’s board is called the Citizens’ Review Board on Police Practices (CRB). It is designed to hold San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officers accountable for alleged misconduct and protect police from unfair discipline.
Gloria said the city council, working with the public and the SDPD, should make recommendations for changes to the board. He said he hopes to have those recommendations on the June 2016 ballot, where ultimately voters could vote to reform the system.
The CRB was approved by voters in 1988 to help relieve tensions in the city after the shooting death of a police officer by a young black man in southeast San Diego.
An NBC 7 Investigates story revealed two former board members, Lucy Pearson and Benetta Buell-Wilson, said they think the board has a “fixed” and ineffective review process. According to the women, the process subverts the board's intent, something that’s detrimental not just for citizens but for SDPD officers as well.
Buell-Wilson and Pearson claim a lack of transparency and secret decision-making stifles dissent between members and the city. Both women said CRB members who are "pro-police" get the more serious cases, depriving the complaining citizens of a fair hearing.
Under the California Public Records Act, NBC 7 Investigates submitted a request to the city asking for details about cases reviewed during the past two years. The city has not yet responded to the request.
Click here to see the complete investigation.
Ed. Note: After review, NBC 7 Investigates removed a comment attributed to the City Attorney's Office because it pertained to a previous article.