Monica Montgomery Appointed Chair Of Public Safety Committee
San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery was confirmed chair of the council's committee on public safety Monday, giving her a new platform to make good on campaign promises of more police accountability.
The council voted unanimously at a special meeting to confirm the committee assignments released by Council President Georgette Gomez late last week. Montgomery thanked her supporters and said she knew they would hold her to her promises.
"I had a really good meeting with (Police Chief David Nisleit), I know those relationships have to be established," she said. "But the people put me in this seat. And we need to dig through the lack of transparency and the differences between what we're hearing from the department and what we're hearing from the community."
The council's eight main standing committees review reports and policy proposals before they reach the full City Council for a vote. Committee chairs can initiate conversations about changes in law and policy, and can sometimes block or delay proposals they may not agree with.
Montgomery won nearly 58 percent of the vote last month in District 4, which includes most of Southeast San Diego, beating incumbent Myrtle Cole. In her inauguration speech last week, Montgomery promised to work to establish a more independent civilian board to review police shootings and in-custody deaths.
The current board, called the Community Review Board on Police Practices, reviews investigations conducted by SDPD Internal Affairs, but does not have the authority to conduct its own investigations or subpoena evidence. Activists tried unsuccessfully this year to get a reform measure on the ballot.
"Our system right now is corrupt," said Aeiramique Blake, a community activist. "We have a lot of work to do. And we need you to oversee that work."
Many of the public speakers at Monday's meeting used the opportunity to comment on the case of 24-year-old Aleah Jenkins, who died recently after being arrested by San Diego police officers. Police say they arrested Jenkins, who was black, in La Jolla on Nov. 27 on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for methamphetamine possession.
Police say they called for paramedics when Jenkins vomited at the scene of the arrest, but that they canceled the call when Jenkins said she had only an upset stomach. Once officers took her to police headquarters they noticed she was unresponsive, a police statement said and attempted to revive her. She was pronounced dead Dec. 6 after several days in the hospital on life support.
Activists at the meeting and Jenkins' mother told council members the police officers could have done more to prevent Jenkins' death.
"My daughter was lovable," said Keiala Jenkins, who last week was allowed to view police body cam video from the incident. "She did not deserve this. What I saw from the cameras is that they neglected my child."
Police say there was no indication that officers used any force on Jenkins, and that homicide detectives are investigating her death.
Gomez also appointed newly elected Councilwoman Vivian Moreno as chair of the Committee on Housing and Land Use — renamed from the Committee on Smart Growth and Land Use — and newly elected Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell as chair of the Committee on the Environment. Gomez renamed the Committee on Infrastructure, still to be chaired by Councilman Mark Kersey, as the Committee on Active Transportation and Infrastructure.
Kersey was appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer as his alternate representative to the San Diego Association of Governments board of directors. SANDAG board members next year will be crafting the agency's next Regional Transportation Plan, which lays out how the agency will spend its money on transportation infrastructure throughout the county.
Faulconer rarely attends meetings, meaning Kersey is likely to play a big role in developing the regional plan. As council president, Gomez also holds a seat on the SANDAG board.