San Diego City Council appoints residents to police oversight commission
The San Diego City Council Monday appointed a group of residents to the city’s Commission on Police Practices — an action following a recent KPBS investigation that revealed community oversight of the San Diego Police Department has ground to a halt.
Dozens of nominees appeared before council members and made their cases as to why they should be chosen to join the Commission on Police Practices. The Council ultimately selected 25 of them to serve as volunteers on the commission
Many spoke about the need for greater transparency and accountability.
“For me accountability means our community has a voice, that there isn’t no backdoor meetings when we have to conduct certain investigations,” said Ramon Montaño Marquez, a resident who was among those selected.
The Commission was created in November 2020 after voters overwhelmingly passed Measure B. Once it is up and running, the commission will have the power to independently investigate allegations of police misconduct and subpoena witnesses.
However, it’s taken two and a half years for council members to create a framework for the commission and appoint commissioners. And it could be another year or more until the commission is fully functioning.
That’s because new commissioners will need to complete extensive training before they can begin reviewing cases. The commission will also need to hire full-time staff members before independent investigations of SDPD can get started.
After Measure B passed, the Council created an interim commission to review and comment on SDPD internal investigations into allegations of police misconduct while council members established the permanent commission. That process took far longer than supporters of Measure B anticipated and overworked interim commissioners suffered from burnout.
By last month, the interim commission had only 10 of 25 member positions filled and a backlog of more than 150 cases. As a result, SDPD has closed dozens of those cases without any input from the commission.
After KPBS had contacted Council President Sean Elo-Rivera’s office about the issues with the interim commission, the Council scrambled to put together Monday’s hearing to appoint members to the permanent commission.
Some residents at Monday’s hearing made clear their displeasure with the Council.
“I am here to express disappointment in the lack of action toward implementing Measure B,” said Tama Becker-Varano.
However, before Becker-Varano could say anything further, Elo-Rivera cut her off, saying public comment had to be limited to the appointment of commissioners.
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