San Diego

San Diego City Council Formally Establishes Police Oversight Commission Passed By Voters

About 3 out of 4 San Diego voters in the 2020 election supported Measure B, which would create an independent police oversight committee

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The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Monday to create an independent police oversight commission, as approved by voters in 2020, and also set temporary rules and a leader for the committee until the full commission can be formed.

The council's vote formally established the Commission on Police Practices, which was created after 75% of San Diegans voted to eliminate the current Community Review Board on Police Practices and replace it with a new independent committee with the power to subpoena evidence and conduct its own investigations into officer use of force.

But, there are still several steps to complete until the full implementation ordinance, which will get the Commission on Police Practices up and running, can be presented to the City Council.

In the meantime, the council appointed Sharmaine Moseley, the former head of the city's Community Review Board on Police Practices, as executive director and formalized a set of standard operating procedures for the commission.

Measure B's passing means the current Community Review Board on Police Practices will be replaced by a commission with more investigative power. NBC 7's Amber Frias explains.

A handful of San Diego residents called into the council meeting Monday to express their frustration with the slow rollout of the commission following the passage of Measure B in the 2020 General Election.

"I am totally disappointed on the slow pace and action the city council has taken to date in implementing Measure B. I know things take time, but how many more people of color will be harassed, bullied, and shot by the police," one San Diegan said.

Another said the interim policies did not go far enough.

"My concern with the procedures is that they appear to maintain the status quo, the caller said. "In other words, the commission would be limited to its abilities to conduct its own separate and independent investigation into police complaints and will continue the processes used by the community review board."

City Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, who has been working for years to change the community review board's practices, acknowledged their concerns but said that it is part of the city's procedures that must be done.

"As a sister to Black brothers, as a daughter to a Black man, as the wife of a Black husband, I am very, very concerned about moving forward. I also know that this is not social media, this is not a campaign, this is not a press conference. This is government and it takes time to get these things through in the best and robust possible way to meet that full intent," Montgomery Steppe said.

“We really are changing the entire spectrum of accountability with this charter change, she added. "So, I just want to make sure that the public knows that we are fully, fully committed and we are bringing these forward as administrative matters and the implementation charter is forthcoming but we want to make sure that that meets the spirit of the charter and what people voted on."

Commissioners for the Commission on Police Practices will be appointed by the city council as opposed to the former board, which was comprised of appointed volunteers.

The committee would not have the authority to press charges or discipline officers but would investigate all shootings involving officers, in-custody deaths and other matters.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposed $4.6 billion budget would allot $1.14 million to the commission to cover full-time salaries for five employees and an executive director. Paid employees would include a General Counsel for the commission, Administrative Aides, and Assistants among others.

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