The City of La Mesa is now accepting applications to join its new citizen-led police oversight board after the city council voted in mid-October to implement such a committee.
The Citizen Police Oversight Board (CPOB) will make recommendations to La Mesa’s mayor, chief of police, city council and city manager on the police department’s policies and procedures on public safety, according to the city.
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La Mesa is seeking 11 community members who would serve two years on the board. It is searching for La Mesa residents who fit any of the criteria:
- A citizen from each of the four police beats
- A citizen from each of the 4 communities: faith-based, business, young adult (18 to 30 years of age), older adult (62+ years of age)
- Representatives from Helix Charter High School and La Mesa–Spring Valley School District
- Advocate for people experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, mental health or other social issue.
No members of law enforcement or their family members will be selected for the panel, the city said.
City council members voted in favor of creating the board 3-2 after citizens expressed dissatisfaction with the La Mesa Police Department for its handling of incidents involving the department and community.
In late May, La Mesa police officer Matt Dages was seen on video approaching then later arresting Amaurie Johnson, a 23-year-old Black man, who was seated near an MTS trolley station in Grossmont. The officer claimed he initially approached Johnson for allegedly smoking in an area where it was not allowed, but Johnson said officers found no evidence of drug paraphernalia when he was searched.
Despite that, the man was still taken into custody and charged with assault on an officer and resisting arrest. The police department later dropped those charges and announced that Officer Dages was no longer employed with the city.
A protest over Johnson’s arrest and the killing of George Floyd was held in La Mesa on May 30 and became turbulent with police officers and some demonstrators clashing. Leslie Furcron, a La Mesa grandmother, was rushed to an ICU after she was struck in the face by a projectile that was fired by police.
The rowdy but peaceful protest turned chaotic as the night progressed when aggressors began to loot nearby businesses and vandalize area properties.
The city hopes to better its relationship with the community by implementing its upcoming oversight board.
Applications to join the panel can be submitted by mail to the City Clerk’s Office, 8130 Allison Avenue, La Mesa, CA 91942 or via email.