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Public Safety

City Council Revives Citizens Advisory Board On Police, Community Relations

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.

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the re-establishment of a community advisory board that will provide recommendations to the police department.

The vote was 8-0, with Councilman Todd Gloria absent, to revive the Citizens Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations, which was originally established in the mid-1980s and became inactive in 1998.

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"Behind the badge, our police officers are San Diegans, just like the rest of us. But for some, it can be hard to see that," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in his remarks to the City Council before the vote. "This is why it's so important to give San Diegans a new opportunity to work along side the city and create a better understanding of how we need to keep our neighborhoods safe."

In 1988, voters approved a measure that established the Citizens Review Board on Police Practices to review and evaluate citizens complaints against police officers.

The reactivation of the advisory board will be separate from the review board, according to Councilwoman Myrtle Cole.

"Given the critical issues facing our nation and our city, the role of this board is necessary to promote and encourage open communication and cooperation between the police department and the residents of the city, recognizing that policing the city of San Diego is a shared responsibility," Cole said.

San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman addressed the City Council, expressing her support for the review board.


"We look forward to enhancing our current partnerships and fostering new ones as we set the national model for community/police relations," Zimmerman said. "Public safety is a shared responsibility, so let's make sure that all of us continue to work together to make sure that our great city is even better."

The San Diego Police Officers Association is also in favor of reviving the advisory board, according to Brian Marvel, the union's president. He said officers were excited to be a part of the program.

"Any time we can actively engage the public and actually teach them so they get a better understanding of what we do out on the street and why we do the things that we do and what case laws there are, I think is always a plus," Marvel said. "Public engagement with the community and the police is huge."

The board will be made up of 15 San Diego residents, including at least one from each of the nine City Council districts. They will serve two-year terms, receive no compensation and be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council.

The board's duty will be to promote and encourage open communication and cooperation between the SDPD and residents of the city and also to develop and make recommendations directed toward informing the community of its rights and responsibilities when coming into contact with police officers.

In addition, the board will recommend and review policies, practices and programs designed to make law enforcement sensitive, effective and responsive to the needs of the city, actively encouraging and fostering citizen participation in crime prevention activities.

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.