Police Review Board Responds To Grand Jury Criticism
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Aired 5/30/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Guest: Jim Kaese, chair-nominee, Citizens Review Board on Police Practices
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Citizens' Review Board on Police Practices
City Administration Building
202 C Street, MS 9A
San Diego, CA 92101
Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The San Diego County Grand Jury report made public last Tuesday says the Citizens Review Board on Police Practices operates in an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and prejudice, which makes it difficult for the board to render independent and impartial decisions.
Jim Kaese, chair-nominee of the CRB, told KPBS the report was "vague, poorly written and incomplete."
He said he had a 30-minute professional conversation with the Grand Jury's foreman, who Kaese said told him, "The Grand Jury feels the CRB is doing a good job."
"I said, 'really, that does not come across in the report,'" Kaese said.
Kaese said the way the report was written and the "sensationalism going on" has taken the report to a level that was "not intended by the Grand Jury even."
The role of the CRB is to review findings of the San Diego Police Department's Internal Affairs Division and agree or disagree, Kaese said.
"We look at complaints made against police officers," he said. "We do not do our own investigation, we are not authorized to do that, so we review investigations performed by the Internal Affairs Department of the police department."
According to the Grand Jury, the CRB has allowed members of the San Diego Police Department's Internal Affairs Division to attend the board's closed-session meetings for the last several years. The board, consisting of 23 members appointed by the mayor, meets in closed session twice a month to review complaints against police officers.
The report alleges that members of Internal Affairs argue and sometimes bully and intimidate CRB members into changing their minds to avoid sending dissenting opinions to the police chief or the mayor.
But Kaese said one of the things missed in the Grand Jury report is the frequency the CRB disagrees with Internal Affairs.
He said the mayor and the public do not know about the times the CRB disagrees and "persuades Internal Affairs to end up agreeing with us."
The mayor does not receive a report when the CRB disagrees, if it eventually reaches an agreement with Internal Affairs.
"Nor does the public find out that we disagreed with Internal Affairs," he said. "All the public sees is that we agreed with Internal Affairs. They don't see this behind-closed-doors disagreement and discussion we had with Internal Affairs."
A member of the city attorney's staff also attends the closed sessions. That office represents the city in any litigation against it or the police department.