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Public Safety

San Diego Board Overseeing Police Misconduct Cases Gets New Boss

Sharmaine Moseley, center, attends Albany's Citizens' Police Review Board meeting on Oct. 11, 2012 at the GWU Center in Albany, N.Y.
Cindy Schultz / Times Union
Sharmaine Moseley, center, attends Albany's Citizens' Police Review Board meeting on Oct. 11, 2012 at the GWU Center in Albany, N.Y.

Board's chairwoman wants new director to bring panel into 21st century

San Diego Board Overseeing Police Misconduct Cases Gets New Boss
The new executive director of the police citizen review board comes from Albany, New York. We take a look at her work there and ask the chairwoman of San Diego's panel what she wants to see from the new hire.

The San Diego Citizens Review Board on Police Practices provides a second set of eyes on police misconduct cases, but it has operated for the past four years without a full-time director.

That changed this month when the city named Sharmaine Moseley as the board's executive director. Moseley comes to San Diego from the citizen review board in Albany, New York.

Since 2010, San Diego's board, which is made up of volunteers and reviews the Police Department's handling of citizen complaints against its officers, has shared a director with the city's Human Relations Commission. Former Director Patrick Hunter took a similar job with San Diego County after the city cut his position to balance its budget.

The city will pay Moseley $115,000 a year.

Now with paid help, board Chairwoman Yuki Marsden said there's an opportunity to increase outreach and transparency. She said she wants more San Diegans to be aware of the group and feel comfortable going to it for help. She also wants an online system to submit complaints against police and track the results.

Marsden said she's confident Moseley can "shepherd forward the CRB into the 21st century."

Even before Moseley's résumé landed on her desk, Marsden said she admired the clarity of Albany's police review board website. It lays out what to expect when lodging a complaint and surveys civilians who go through the process. Albany's review board also lists community groups it has trained to help people file complaints.

"I thought there were some best practices that we could copy," Marsden said. "So I think her experiences — and bringing somebody in from the outside who has the experience — will be good."

Moseley has managed the Albany panel for seven years and is a member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. She previously worked as a legislative assistant for a deputy speaker in the New York Assembly.

Moseley and her team have been praised for pushing through years of negotiations with the police union to develop a mediation program that lets officers and the citizens who filed complaints against them talk out their problems face-to-face.

The Albany board, however, has been criticized for siding with police investigative findings 97 percent of the time, according to the Times Union in Albany. (San Diego's board found the police were not at fault in about 72 percent of cases in 2014.)

Moseley told the Times Union newspaper in 2012 that despite the rate the board exonerated officers, it did bring about changes in the department. It successfully petitioned for an early warning system that identifies problem officers and got the department to install dashboard cameras, she said.

But much of the frustration with Albany's review board could come from its lack of teeth — the same criticism some have of San Diego's. Or, Marsden would say, a lack of understanding about its teeth.

The Albany and San Diego review boards do not have the power of subpoena and cannot investigate claims against police. They can only investigate how the department handled those claims, and they can't force discipline or policy changes.

But they can be a squeaky wheel with city political leaders in dealing with police-community relations. And now, in San Diego, they have a paid squeaky wheel. Moseley starts Feb. 2.