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One year in, San Diego Commission on Police Practices makes slow progress

A sign outside the Commission on Police Practices meeting at Carmel Mountain Ranch Library on December 12, 2023.
Scott Rodd
A sign outside the Commission on Police Practices meeting at Carmel Mountain Ranch Library on December 12, 2023.

It’s been one year since San Diego’s City Council appointed members to the Commission on Police Practices, the city’s new police oversight body. But the commission remains well short of the oversight vision approved by voters more than three years ago.

Why it matters

In 2020, 75% of voters approved Measure B, which required the creation of a new police oversight body called the Commission on Police Practices. It would have the power to independently investigate complaints against officers and subpoena witnesses.

But it took the city council years to set up the commission and get buy-in from the police officers’ union. It wasn’t until last May that council members appointed volunteer commissioners to the board, and they weren’t officially sworn in until August.


Since then, the commission has made slow progress on fulfilling the demands of voters.

Closer look

Gloria Tran, chair of the commission, acknowledges the commission’s ups and downs.

“There have been some challenges, certainly,” she said. “That's to be expected when you're building a commission relatively from scratch.”

The Commission on Police Practices has been searching for a new executive director since late last year. Most staff positions, which provide support to commissioners and help keep the commission running, remain unfilled.

And the oversight body is still working on draft procedures for launching independent investigations. Those won’t be ready for another few months. The commission then has to meet with the police officers’ union to resolve any potential conflicts or disagreements over the draft rules, which could take months.


“Obviously, I wish we were even further,” Tran said. “But it's a city thing, so some of the bureaucracy has held us up.”

Turnover has also been a struggle. The 25-member commission has had to fill more than 10 vacancies this year.

But there have been some accomplishments. The commission has hired a full-time chief investigator and recently organized a community forum on San Diego’s police chase policies.

Tran said the commission is also keeping up with reviewing the police department’s internal investigations into its officers, which was a struggle for the city’s previous oversight board. In fact, civilian oversight of police misconduct essentially ground to a halt as the City Council took years to follow through on Measure B.

“We're all just trying to do our best with the resources that we currently have,” Tran said.

City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera declined to answer specific questions about the commission’s slow progress. But he commended the commission in an emailed statement.

“While red tape and political opposition slowed down implementation, Council and Commissioners have worked with urgency to take the necessary steps to build a solid foundation for long-term success,” he wrote. “I appreciate the hard work and dedication of those who have served and continue to serve on [the] Commission.


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