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Committee To Oversee San Diego Police Lacks Diversity, Critics Say

The San Diego Police Department seal is seen on an officer's uniform in this undated photo.
The San Diego Police Department seal is seen on an officer's uniform in this undated photo.
Committee To Oversee San Diego Police Lacks Diversity, Critics Say
A group based in southeastern San Diego is criticizing the makeup of the San Diego City Council committee that oversees the police department. Appointments to the committee were made by the new Council President Myrtle Cole.

The San Diego City Council on Monday unanimously approved a list of appointments to committees and outside organizations put together by newly elected Council President Myrtle Cole.

During public testimony at the council meeting, about five people spoke up against the makeup of the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods. They were from a number of groups active in southeastern San Diego.

In an interview prior to the council meeting, Khalid Alexander, founder of the nonprofit Pillars of the Community, said none of the committee members represented the communities where relations with the police are most contentious.


"They represent their constituents," he said. "And if they don't have constituents that are concerned about racial profiling, about police harassment... it's very concerning, to say the least."

RELATED: Councilwoman's Comments On Racial Profiling Spark Outcry

The Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee hears matters on police policies and budgets before they reach the full City Council. Its previous chair, former Councilwoman Marti Emerald, put her stamp on the committee by commissioning a study on racial profiling in the San Diego Police Department. Emerald represented City Heights and parts of southeastern San Diego, both of which have large minority populations.

The new chair of the committee is Councilman Chris Cate, who represents Kearny Mesa, Clairemont, Sorrento Valley and Mira Mesa. The other members are Barbara Bry, who represents La Jolla, Carmel Valley and University City; Lorie Zapf, who represents Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Point Loma; and Chris Ward, who represents Hillcrest, North Park and downtown.

"I will continue to bring a solution-oriented approach to my committee service and work to bolster our community policing, better our neighborhoods, and improve the city's economic climate," Cate, who is Filipino-American, said in a statement released after Monday's vote.


Alexander said he would have liked to see council members David Alvarez or Georgette Gomez, who are both Latino, or Cole, who is African American, get seats on the public safety committee because the communities in their district have a greater stake in reforming police practices.

Cole nominated herself for just one committee position, to chair the Committee on Rules. She told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday that while she won't sit on the public safety committee, she will advise it informally.

"Council member Chris Cate is going to be great as chair," she said. "Trust me. It's going to move forward just like it's been moving forward before."

Cole was elected council president last week amid opposition from several progressive groups who saw her as too close with the office of Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.