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Public Safety

San Diego’s police oversight commission faces another hurdle after leader departs

San Diego voters approved a new civilian police oversight board in 2020. It took years for the City Council to finally seat the commission. Now, KPBS’s Scott Rodd reports the board is trying to find a new executive director.

San Diego’s civilian police oversight board is playing catch-up into the new year.

The Commission on Police Practices is tasked with reviewing officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and complaints against San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officers. It also suggests policy changes to SDPD. Eventually, the volunteer board will have the power to subpoena witnesses and independently investigate serious cases of alleged officer misconduct.

In November 2020, city voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of a more robust police oversight board amid a nationwide reckoning on officer misconduct following the murder of George Floyd. But it took years for the City Council to stand up the new commission and appoint commissioners.


Now, the commission is searching for a new executive director. Sharmaine Moseley, who oversaw San Diego’s civilian oversight of police for more than eight years, resigned for a new job in the Los Angeles County. That leaves the commission with a vacuum of institutional knowledge as the city tries to fulfill the will of voters.

“Getting the executive director in quickly is important, because we’re building a foundation,” said Commission Chair Gloria Tran.

After voters approved Measure B, the 2020 ballot measure that called for the creation of the Commission on Police Practices, the City Council converted the city’s existing civilian oversight board into an interim commission.

They were tasked with continuing reviews on cases of alleged officer misconduct and provide input for the creation of the new commission. But as the years wore on, volunteers on the interim commission dropped off, and the City Council declined to appoint replacements.

Allegations not reviewed


A KPBS investigation earlier this year found dozens of complaints against officers that expired without independent civilian review, as the City Council took years to stand up the new commission. Under state law, a police department typically has to close an internal investigation and issue discipline against officers within a one-year time window. If that deadline passes, SDPD cannot accept recommendations from the commission.

KPBS has now confirmed that more than 90 cases expired after passing that one-year mark. The cases involve serious allegations, such as discrimination and excessive use of force. They could also include cases of in-custody deaths and officer-involved shootings.

The commission restarted its review of cases. In November, the commission reviewed 13 cases containing 81 allegations. The commission disagreed with SDPD’s conclusions on 24 of the allegations.

But the new commission has a full plate beyond just reviewing cases. It still needs to finish drafting its bylaws and establish a process for launching independent investigations. Having an executive director is essential to getting these tasks done.

“There are certain people in our office that can’t sign anything or authorize anything,” Tran said. “So it’s backlogged a little bit.”

For weeks, the commission had to route its purchases through the City Council president’s office. Tran said she’d like to hire a new executive director within three months, but acknowledged this timeline may be overly optimistic.

“I know the bureaucracy probably won’t allow that,” she said. “But we’re trying to expedite it as much as we can.”

A report earlier this year from the Office of the City Auditor criticized the city’s inefficient hiring process.

There are also four unexpected commissioner vacancies the City Council has to fill. Nominations for those positions closed last week.

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