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Activists want accountability in Carlsbad's new Community-Police Engagement Commission

Earlier this year, Carlsbad City Council voted to form a community-police engagement commission.

The goal of the commission is to foster strong police-community relations. It will allow the public to give recommendations on police policies but activists say it's missing key elements.

“It doesn't have enough power behind it and not enough teeth behind it to hold  law enforcement responsible or accountable," said Yusef Miller, the Co-Founder of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition.


He says incidents can escalate when confronted by law enforcement. Not so, when dealing with medical professionals. Yet, police officers have been found to not have broken any of the department's rules or policies.

“We need accountability for those kinds of problematic arrests, problematic engagements, we need people to know, and officers to know that this will not be tolerated in the post George Floyd era," Miller said. "And we're moving forward in a way that the community is engaged in its policing reform.”

Miller says some Carlsbad residents feel there’s no need for a community-police engagement commission at all.

“People will call in to Carlsbad from the affluent community and say, 'there's no problem at all whatsoever. Why are we even talking about this?' They tend to be white, and they have an upper class income. Then when you go to the people of color of Carlsbad, lower income, the answer is totally different. There's something that needs to be done, they have a different experience with law enforcement. Its almost as if we're speaking two different languages," he said.

In a statement the Carlsbad Police Department said: “We encourage and maintain an open dialog with our community and advocacy groups so we can better understand their concerns and work together toward solutions. We understand strong relationships and transparency are essential to effective community policing.”


While Miller had hoped to see more, he says this is a start in developing something that works for all.

“A product that will protect the community and protect the officer," Miller said. "The officers are a part of the community, we want everyone protected, everyone to go home safely, we want everyone to have courtesy when they're interacting with law enforcement. So there’s a lot of work to do.”

An ordinance will be developed for city council review later this year before recruiting for the commission begins.

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.