San Diego

Group Continues Push for Separate Police Review Commission Despite Setback

The group that has been pushing for an independent San Diego police review commission says they're not giving up the fight and is now looking for a charter amendment to appear the November 2020 ballot.

The Community Review Board on Police Practices was created in 1988 to review complaints raised against officers with the San Diego Police Department. The group reviews officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. 

But some groups perceive the board, made up of 23 volunteers who are appointed by the mayor, as an arm of the police, NBC 7 Investigates reports have found.

The group Women Occupy San Diego has been pushing to create a commission that could conduct its own, separate investigations, as opposed to a city board.

"They would be able to determine what complaints they want to investigate and they would have an independent person for the investigation," Women Occupy San Diego's Kate Yavenditti said. 

The group wanted to get this before voters in November, but the San Diego City Council deadlocked on the issue last month. So, they are now aiming for 2020.

The head of the San Diego Police Officers Association said he is concerned about who would be carrying out those investigations and whether they'd be as qualified.

He said the beauty of the current system, is that the investigators know their actions are going to get audited and analyzed.

"I look at it like, if you get your taxes done and you have three IRS agents looking over your shoulder while you're doing it, you're probably not going to make a whole lot of mistakes," SDPOA President Jack Schaeffer said. "So I think that the citizens of San Diego really benefit from having that real oversight of a quality investigation." 

Voters first thought reform to the board was needed in 2016 and passed Measure G, which redefined the board's responsibilities.

But NBC 7 Investigates learned not all of those voter-approved changes are in place.

The measure was approved with 83-percent of the vote, amending the city charter and requiring the board to review all officer-involved-shootings and in-custody deaths.

Women Occupy San Diego said they believe the department's investigations are thorough but an independent board would improve the community's trust of the police department.

The Community Review Board last year investigated 54 cases and has investigated 43 cases so far in the fiscal year 2018.

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