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Council Takes Up Police Review Board Reform Measure

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman talks about a federal investigation of the San Diego Police Department as Mayor Kevin Faulconer stands beside her on March 24, 2014.
Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman talks about a federal investigation of the San Diego Police Department as Mayor Kevin Faulconer stands beside her on March 24, 2014.

Council Takes Up Police Review Board Reform Measure
Council Takes Up Police Review Board Reform Measure GUEST: Marti Emerald, councilwoman, San Diego

A proposed ballot measure to revise San Diego Citizens Police Review Board was before the city Council today. The story behind San Diego's loss of a high tech unicorn. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Monday, August 1. Our top story and midday edition a public memorial service is being planned for this Friday in El Cajon for police officer Johnathan DeGuzman. He was shot Thursday night after making a field stop in Southcrest. Fellow officer Wade Irwin is recuperating. The shooting took place in San Diego's city council member Marti Emerald's district 9. I spoke with her today about the incident and a number of other issues. Council member Marti Emerald welcome. Thank you. Do you know anything more about the field stop these two gang unit officers were making? Not yet. I haven't spoken with chief and they both had their cameras on. I'm sure there investigators are looking at that video closely. We have to honor the family of Mister Deguzman and his memorial services Friday. Many of us will be there. Mister Irwin is recovering from his wounds and as I understand he was shot in the neck, he is very lucky to be alive. I dropped by the hospital Friday and talked with some of the officers who said, he was awake and he recognized people. That's the good news out of it. It will take time looking at the video and when the police are ready to give us some blow-by-blow of what happened, they will do that. I'm looking forward to it as well as everybody else. Today the city Council will putting a measure on the ballot that will revise the cities Citizens Police Review Board. How do you think it measure like that would help police citizen relations? The police review board came into existence by public vote after the tragedy in the SETI -- 70s. We have not tweaked it and I think the relationship between police and community has changed in those years, it's been nearly 30 years. It's time to take a closer look at it. One of the suggestions was to change the name from citizens review board to Community Review Board , it implies the community is engaged versus just people who are citizens. It's not a big deal, I think it carries a message. That's important. We would be, by municipal code we are adding money to the budget to hire an independent legal counsel. That was something people want it. You have called this measure a baby step towards needed police oversight. The people are get -- women occupy wanted subpoena pounder -- power, they wanted money for a full-time independent counsel and a full-time investigator. That's not in this measure. We interviewed a number of people, we chatted with the fellow who runs the counties law enforcement review board. They have subpoena power, I felt as though we should have it. I was outmoded. He was saying they have not had to use it except for on very rare occasions. Our situation might be the same. I was hoping for the hammer, just in case people didn't want to cooperate and wouldn't come forward, we would have that available to us. Let's see how it goes down the road, with the independent counsel. We got the number, the $25,000 figure from the county, that's what they spend every year with an attorney who's on retainer. That's how we're going to start. If the voters agree that this is a change of they want to make. Something that might help the city know where it stands on police community relations is more data on possible Dallas -- bias in police relations. You are more curious than frustrated. I just want to see what they've found. The researchers at San Diego state have been crunching numbers and doing what they can, apparently at the beginning of the process we got $50,000 from the Mayor's office, my staff and I. We came to San Diego state and they said they would love to do it and got going on it enthusiastically. Somewhere along the way someone drop a ball on getting a contract signed, we had to go back to the cities purchasing and contracting department to draft a contract, it finally got done and the researchers got back to work on it. Marti Emerald you accuse the Mayor's office of offering to trade votes. You said that they said, if you voted with Republicans to stop it measure to revise the June primary rules -- The top two in November. You'd get the votes you needed to pass a firehouse bond measure. The Mayor has denied this. Do you stick by the accusation? Yes. I've also moved on. We've got a lot going on in district 9, I've only got four more months left, here on Council. The facts speak for themselves, they voted the way they wanted to. I voted for the firehouse measure that I have worked so hard on for the last couple of years. A lot of people at work on it. Those are the facts. That's a criminal offense though. Yes it is. You aren't going to pursue that? Not at this time. I've got so much to do, it becomes a distraction. I've been speaking with city council member, Marti Emerald.

The San Diego City Council on Monday will vote on whether to put reforms to the Citizens Review Board on Police Practices on the November ballot. The measure would change its name to the Community Review Board and give the board power to review all in-custody deaths and officer-involved shootings.

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The activists who first proposed the measure, however, criticized the final version in a City Council hearing last month, saying the board would still lack subpoena power and board members should be appointed by the council, not the mayor.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who wants the measure on the November ballot, said it was a "baby step" and the council could work on more reforms in the future.

Emerald joins KPBS Midday Edition on Monday to discuss the upcoming vote and how the new board could improve police-community relations.