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San Diego’s Police Reform Measure Passed, What Happens Next?

San Diego police officers monitor protesters during a demonstration against p...

Photo by Mike Damron

Above: San Diego police officers monitor protesters during a demonstration against police brutality, San Diego, June 1, 2020.

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San Diegans overwhelmingly passed Measure B, which will establish an independent commission to oversee the San Diego Police Department. But there are still many details to be worked out regarding ... Read more →

Aired: November 12, 2020 | Transcript

San Diegans overwhelmingly passed Measure B, which will establish an independent commission to oversee the San Diego Police Department. But there are still many details to be worked out regarding how that commission will operate.

The measure means the city will now have a Commission on Police Practices, with members appointed by the City Council, along with its own staff and an independent attorney.

Most importantly, the commission will have the power to subpoena and conduct investigations into police officer misconduct, review complaints against officers and investigate in-custody deaths and shootings by police. Finally, it would make recommendations on police officer discipline and police policies.

But though the measure passed, the City Council still needs to draft and pass an implementation ordinance that will lay out how the commission works, how many members it will have and how those members will be chosen.

The mayor and City Council will also have to budget money to hire a full-time executive director, an independent attorney and staff to support the commission.

RELATED: Measure B: Asking San Diego Voters To Beef Up Police Oversight

"It's going to take another process to get this to where we need it to be to be operational," said Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, who strongly supported Measure B. "We need to go into a whole other stage of creating an implementation ordinance, working with the primary unions that will be affected, bring them in."

Montgomery Steppe said working with unions could involve a process called meet and confer, which can move quickly or take months.

She added that funding for staff would need to be included in the budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. "We're going to have a really tough budget season again, but we have priorities and this is one of them," she said.

That's not soon enough for Andrea St. Julian, the co-chairwoman of San Diegans for Justice, which drafted and pushed for Measure B. She wants to see the council approve funding for the commission's executive director in the next few months.

"They simply cannot wait until July to fund the Commission" she said, which is when the next fiscal budget would be adopted. "We're looking to the Mayor and the City Council to immediately fund the commission. The City Council would then appoint an executive director to hire staff. We'll be looking for the City Council to hire the executive director within the next few months."

St. Julian said her organization plans to stay involved as the Council sets up the commission to ensure community members' needs are met. That includes who will sit on the commission.

"We hope the City Council can take into account how the community feels, what they think is important, and most importantly that commissioners reflect the community most affected by policing in this city," she said.

There is no set number of commissioners, so St. Julian said she could see having one commissioner from each council district and then additional commissioners for districts that are policed more heavily. Montgomery Steppe said she is also committed to reserving a youth seat.

As the commission is established, current volunteer members of the Community Review Board on Police Practices will serve as interim commissioners, and then their board will be officially dissolved.

Mayor-elect Todd Gloria will have a minimal role in the commission, besides budgeting for its staff, St. Julian said. She expects he will be cooperative.

Listen to this story by Claire Trageser.

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A rise in Covid-19 cases has put San Diego in the state’s purple, most restrictive reopening tier. Meanwhile, school districts are working to keep school buses virus-free -- and we’ll ... Read more →

Aired: November 11, 2020 | Transcript

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Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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