Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and local prominent Black community leaders unveiled details Friday on a proposal to adjust law enforcement policies that will help combat racial inequity.
The proposal calls for more oversight of law enforcement, having other agencies respond to calls regarding mental health and homelessness and to establish a new office of equity and racial justice. Fletcher worked with community members to create the policy.
"I am a white man and the simple reality is I cannot speak to the experience of being Black in America," Fletcher said. "I rely heavily on the folks behind me and many more to help shape and understand the lived experiences, the voices, the expertise to craft the policies that, again, I bring forward at their suggestion, at their request together as an ally.”
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The first proposal aims to give the Citizen's Law Enforcement Review Board more independence and an expansion of their authority to investigate claims of misconduct in the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. The policy would allow the review board to investigate use of force that results in bodily injury and use of force at any First Amendment protest.
If the second proposal is approved, an equity and racial justice office would be created to involve communities of color in setting policies and budget priorities.
As for the third proposal, if approved, it would redirect calls regarding mental health and homelessness from police officers to dedicated clinicians. The policy calls for the creation of countywide Mobile Crisis Response Teams that could be contacted with a helpline to respond to the aforementioned calls. It also would dedicate $10 million annually in the HHSA budger for the service.
“I am excited today that we will have other options for our mentally challenged relatives," said Ellen Nash, Chair of the Board of the Black American Political Association of California." That hit home for me."
While sharing details of the proposal, Fletcher said the changes that community members are asking for in the policies are not new.
"Our community has been crying out for this change for decades and decades," he said. "What is new is an increased awareness of the problem. An increased focus on the need that it must be addressed now.”
The Supervisor credited active community members for giving him insight on what underserved residents need. Buki Domingos, Founder of the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego, Nash, Khalid Alexander of Pillars of the Community and Maresa Talbert of San Diegans for Justice all worked with Fletcher on the proposal and spoke at Friday's press conference.
Alexander called Fletcher's proposal a "step in the right direction."
"These proposals that Supervisor Fletcher is giving to the community are not revolutionary," Alexander said. "Some people may look at the demand to use mental health experts to deal with mental health issues as radical. It is not. None of the proposals that are being made today are particularly groundbreaking. However, they are an important step in the right direction.”
Domingos said the proposals are just the beginning of a significant change that will help many in the country.
“As we move forward with this community, our voices will not be silent and this will not just be another period of demos, rallies and riots," she said. "This will truly be a period of change in the history of the United States of America.”
As for Talbert, she expressed gratitude to the supervisor for taking the time to listen to what members of the Black community had to say about their wellbeing.
“We want to thank Supervisor Fletcher for following in the lead of Black organizers, attorneys, community organizations, pastors and activists who have been working for decades to improve public safety and equity for all San Diegans."
The County Board of Supervisors will vote on the three policies as separate proposals at the next meeting on June 23.