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San Diego sees slow progress on police oversight

 May 26, 2023 at 11:59 AM PDT

S1: This week on Roundtable , a closer look at ongoing issues with San Diego's Commission on Police practices. It's supposed to provide oversight for police.

S2: In that timeline , that interim commission has kind of slowly fallen apart.



S1: Don't go anywhere. We're taking a closer look at the state of San Diego's police oversight commission coming up next on roundtable. You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. It's been more than two years since voters approved stronger community oversight of the San Diego Police Department , passed with 75%. Supporting the Commission on Police practices was intended to do just that. But a recent Kpbs investigation found a commission in disarray and unable to keep up with cases involving allegations of police misconduct. Here's what one former commissioner had to say. Patrick Anderson.

S4: We can't guarantee somebody who's being pulled over right now that their complaint is going to be heard and given a fair shake by this commission. That's a tragedy and it's a political disaster , frankly.

S1: With less than half of its seats filled , the commission had become overwhelmed by cases and it essentially shut down. Kpbs reporting may have led to a quick response from city leaders earlier this week to fix the issue. I'm joined today by Kpbs investigative reporter Scott Rod. He's been one of the reporters leading the coverage on this that prompted action at city hall. Also here with us is Kelly Davis. She's a San Diego based independent journalist who covers criminal justice for Voice of San Diego and the Union Tribune. And she's also been following this story closely and leading coverage. I want to welcome you both here to roundtable. So , Scott , first question to you. A lot to go over here.

S2: So how many cases of alleged misconduct were they reviewing ? How did that compare this year compared to previous years ? And I saw a trend. I saw that the number of cases that the commission was reviewing was dropping after measure be passed , dropping substantially. So that caught my eye. Certainly when you see a trend like that , and given the fact that Measure B voters were expecting more robust police oversight , not for things like case review to drop. The other thing that jumped out to me was just , as you said , the number of commissioners on this commission was clearly , you know , it was a shell of what it was supposed to be. And I started reaching out to some of the folks who were currently or formerly on the commission , and they gave me the lowdown , basically said that the commission was struggling and they were barely keeping up with the basic oversight function of reviewing allegations of police misconduct.

S1: What brought about this new oversight commission was Measure B. Kelly , can you remind us what that measure sought to do and how voters responded to it ? Yeah.

S3: Measure B was a November 2020 ballot measure , and it sought to overhaul the way police oversight is handled in the city of San Diego. And it's it's not been fully implemented yet. It won't be fully implemented until the new commission is up and running. But once it's fully implemented , it will change the way the city's police oversight is handled. So it would go from the current oversight model , which is a review board to a board with the ability to independently investigate misconduct allegations. And as you mentioned , Matt , it passed pretty easily with 75% of the vote.

S1: And Scott , just generally , if you could , how is this supposed to work ? Like is the commission tied to the police department ? I know you mentioned the word independent.

S2: So the interim commission , which is what we have right now , is carry on basic oversight function of reviewing allegations of police misconduct. Essentially what happens is the police will review the allegations themselves. They will make a determination if it's a sustained finding or if there's , you know , they exonerate an officer , if there's punishment that will be included in the investigation , then they'll hand it over to the commission and the commission will review that and then make a determination. They may agree with those findings. They may disagree and they may give recommendations to the police. So , again , that's how police oversight has worked in San Diego now for a while and is currently still operating. But when this new commission is fully stood up and active , it's going to have independent investigation power. So there's still going to be some somewhat of a relationship with police where they have to work together to share internal investigation files. But when they launch an investigation independently , they truly are aiming for this to be separate from the police department. You know , they will have their own paid staff and that includes their own independent counsel so that they can get legal advice on their investigations that will be separate from the city attorney , separate from the legal advice that's given to the police.

S1: As we mentioned , this measure , it got a lot of support back in 2020. And as we've been hearing from you and Scott , more independent investigations seem to be one of the main reasons that people supported it.

S3: And only then , once that investigation was completed , would it be reviewed by what's now the Commission on Police Practices. And some people might argue that a better model would be the commission that has its own investigators is able to conduct conduct its own investigation of the complaint. And this is the model that the county has , the county's law enforcement review board. It has its own staff of investigators , its own executive director , and it's able to release more information because it's it's it's independent. It's conducting an independent investigation. So they could produce summaries of of why they arrived at the conclusions that they arrived at. That's something that the current commission on police Practices in San Diego can't do because it's relying on the San Diego Police Department's internal affairs documents , which are off limits to the public. So I think you get more information with this independent model. And I think folks that would argue that , you know , not only do independent investigations allow for more transparency , but they are better able to spot red flags or trends that might indicate the need for a policy overhaul.


S3: It could be anything from discourtesy on the part of a police officer all the way up to , you know , a police shootings. But I know that the because the current commission on police practices is down to so few members , they've really had to prioritize what they call category one complaints. Those are your your shootings , your allegations of excessive force. And they've kind of had to push aside the less serious complaints. But I think , you know , anyone who files a complaint with the police department , regardless of what it's over , would like to know that that complaint is being thoroughly investigated. And right now they they are unable to. You know , as as Patrick Anderson said in the clip you played , they they don't know if that investigation is being completed.

S1: So , Scott , right now , this implementation , it started with an interim commission.

S2: Before Measure B , there was the Community Review Board , which was tasked with taking these investigations , these internal investigations that police completed into allegations of misconduct , reviewing them , giving their assessment as to whether or not they felt that the findings were sustained or if an officer deserved more punishment. But they were just recommendations after Measure B passed. This new commission on police practices is supposed to be much more robust , as we've been talking about. But the city knew that it was going to take some time to stand up. So in the interim , there was going to be an interim commission that carried on that work of the Community Review Board that continued to review cases , the internal investigations that police conducted into allegations of misconduct just to make sure that that basic oversight function kept going while the city was working on appointing a new slate of commissioners and developing what this new investigative sort of commission was going to look like and how it was going to work. So that's where the interim commission comes in. It was supposed to be carrying on that basic oversight function.

S1: But that build up , at least as far as you found it hadn't happened until recently , which we'll get to you later. But that buildup hadn't really happened.

S2: It's been a long process , so there's definitely been progress in terms of getting the new the new commission with its investigative powers , you know , up and running. You know , it's not fully active yet , but there has been steps that have been made. But in that in that timeline , that interim commission has kind of slowly fallen apart. The number of commissioners dropped , the number of cases they were able to review also dropped. And now the number of cases that are just sitting there. Waiting to be reviewed has ballooned substantially.

S1: Let's talk about who might be at fault for some of this. And you were reporting , Scott , you recently spoke with Andrea Saint Julian. She's co-chair with San Diegans for Justice , and she was one of the original authors of Measure B. Here's some of what she told you.

S5: It is a travesty that the city council has worked in such a way that instead of creating a more robust oversight mechanism for the for the city and for the police department , they have basically destroyed it at this point.

S1: You know , she really seems to be pointing the finger at the San Diego City Council , the members on that board sort of saying that they are responsible for , I think , as she called it , the failures of this commission to get off the ground.

S2: Measure B shifted a lot of the authority from the mayor and the council to primarily or really just the council to put together the implementation ordinance to figure out who the commissioners were going to be , to really figure out this whole new process for standing up the commission and , you know , working on how the new commission rules were going to operate. Once commissioners were appointed , they were going to have a lot of say in the process , too , but really is up to the city council to get this thing off the ground , to get this thing going. And it's been two and a half years. And , you know , folks are saying that while some important steps have been made along the way , we're not we're not too close. We're really not close to this brand new commission being fully active. And again , in the meantime , that interim commission that was supposed to carry on the basic oversight functions keep making sure that allegations against police were getting a , you know , another look that has pretty much halted. Wow.

S1: Wow.

S3: And yeah , they've been , you know , Monica Montgomery , Step City Council member Monica Montgomery had been the one who was shepherding this along because she was the chair of the Public Safety Committee when when Measure B was being the early days of implementation. And so I think , you know , a lot of folks have said that that it wasn't prioritized. And , you know , and there's been some other issues that have come up , ranging from who was drafting the ordinance that would guide the commission into existence to , you know , what happened when the city when it came time to negotiate with the police union over some provisions in the ordinance. And so I think , you know , there's been a lot of reasons for for the delay.

S1: And Scott , there's sort of one criticism that keep coming up from former commissioners that you spoke with , and it had to do with workload. Some say they found it to be overwhelming. And even one commissioner you spoke with referred to it as a second job.

S2: If you look at their their resumes , they're kind of like , you know , the ultimate go getters , so to speak. They have pretty they have very impressive resumes. They typically , you know , have some experience in this space. They're comfortable with volunteering a lot of time on top of typically their full time jobs. And so it's a position that typically , at least the commissioners or former commissioners I spoke to , they understand that they're going to be taking on a lot. But over time , the amount of work that piled up for them just became unsustainable. And it's important to remember , like this work is reviewing body camera footage of use of force. It's , you know , reviewing probably the worst days of some people's lives when they have these interactions with police and they feel like it didn't go well , it didn't go right. And so this is really heavy stuff that they're spending a lot of time sort of reviewing and just sort of deep inside these cases. So it's not only a lot of work , it's really heavy work. They also were responsible for providing guidance to the city council , providing suggestions as to how to move forward , to stand up the new , more powerful commission on Police practices. And a number of them also participated in organized a lot of community roundtables to make sure that community voices weren't being lost in this process. So yeah , a tremendous amount of time has been spent by these commissioners on on this work , and that's why the burnout has accumulated. You know , a lot of them are spending just a lot of time on. This and it just wasn't sustainable for them.

S1: And you can imagine , yeah , with less commissioners on there , how much more spread out that works going to be. But it sounds like that some of these commissioners voiced some of these concerns to the city council. Did you get a chance to ask the city council or any of the members about about those concerns or if they were raised or maybe why action wasn't taken ? Well , we.

S2: Definitely know that they raised these concerns with the council. There was a memo that was sent to the city council that was also publicly released from the commission , the interim commission , where the chair said to the council , look , we are losing members. We are we have a growing backlog of cases. We may get to a point where we can't sustain this and we can't keep we won't be able to keep reviewing these cases. It you know , the subject line of the memo was something like urgent. You know , more commissioners needed. And they said essentially they got crickets from the city council. I'd asked the executive director of the interim commission , who also confirmed that in addition to that memo , there were other efforts to reach out to the council to say , look , we really need more resources here. We really need help. And they didn't get it.


S3: You know , though , some Andrea Saint Julian , you know , who was quoted from earlier , you know , she's really been on top of this as much as she can. And I think when things , you know , kind of slow to a , you know , a crawl , she knows she she gets on the phone with the media and , you know , she lets them know what's going on , that that things have been dragging. And then we'll only then , I think , will we see a response from the city council and and suddenly the commission on police practices becomes a priority.

S1: We'd like to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the state of police oversight in San Diego ? You can give us a call at (619) 452-0228. You can leave us a voicemail there or you can email us at Roundtable at Coming up , we're taking a closer look at how the city is responding to reports about how long it's taken to get this commission on police practices up and running. You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about problems with San Diego's commission on Police practices. With us today is Scott Rodd from Kpbs News and journalist Kelly Davis. All right , guys. So we've talked about some of the issues here and what seemed like in response to both of your guys's investigations. San Diego City Council President Shaun El Rivera quickly put together a city council meeting this week. It was on Monday to fill these missing seats on the commission. I mean , Scott , first to you. Why do you think that happened ? I mean , to me , it seems like it's because of the work that you and Kelly did , but.

S2: It's hard to say exactly. I mean , there were there was a lot of pressure coming from community activists , coming from people who supported Measure B to get this thing moving , to get the appointments made , which was really important step to getting this new commission fully stood up and active. So there's definitely pressure there. I mean , my reporting was bringing this issue to the doorstep of Council member Montgomery Step , as well as Council President Eloy Rivera. And we were saying , you know , we'd like to speak to you. We know that there are issues happening with the Commission on Police practices , the process , but also with the interim commission as we were requesting more information. That's when there was this announcement that suddenly they were going to within , I think , six business days , put together a hearing to make all these all these appointments to the new commission. So to figure out exactly why , it's hard to say. We don't know exactly what's going on , you know , behind closed doors. But we can say that there certainly was a sense of urgency once our reporting was picking up. And I say our as in Kpbs as well as Kelly's , because I certainly know that she was probably working on a story right at the same time , because we published right around the same time. I think Kelly got her story out just before me. So we know that there was added urgency to this. And we heard from , you know , a city council member on the record , council member Ron Wolpert , who said , you know , I heard about this. Her office told us that she heard about this from the press release that council member , Council President Eloy Rivera put out , saying it wasn't until I got that press release that I knew that we were going to have this very important meeting. So it was clear that the way this rolled out , there was a sense of we need to get this done soon , let's get moving. But it did leave a lot of folks who were supportive of Measure B , wondering where was this urgency before ? You know , you guys have had these applications for months , applications for this new commission. You know , why is it just now that let's crunch and try to get this done in such a short period of time ? We were definitely hearing that from advocates and supporters of Measure B.

S1: And Kelly , what about you on your end ? I don't know if you had a chance to talk to any of the council members directly , but why now ? Like why now this seemingly maybe rushed process to to fill seats on the commission ? Yeah.

S3: I mean , it's it's the when you're down , you know , you've got a commission that's supposed to have 25 members and you're down to eight active members , you know , and they're unable to to do their work. I think that that for a city as large as San Diego , I think that that's that's pretty embarrassing. You know , nearly pretty much all big cities have some sort of police oversight commission and , you know , doing good work and trying to do good work. And so I think it was , yeah , pretty embarrassing for San Diego's to to be whittled down to being , you know , unable to do its work. And I think some would argue , you know , ineffective.


S2: And it should be noted that the appointments that were made on Monday , it was 25 of them. They will essentially be the new commission. They will take the place of the interim commission. It's important to note that and we heard a bunch of testimony essentially , there were brief presentations by these nominees given to the city council to make their pitch as to why they believed that they were the best fit for this commission. And so the meeting went on for a long time , not only because of the presentations , but because there was a good amount of deliberation and voting that happened by the council to figure out who these new commissioners were going to be. My understanding is this was the first process of its kind where the city council was making these appointments to a commission without the assistance of the mayor. So this was something new for them. They made all the appointments. There are 25 of them. It did again go on for a while. I was sitting in the chambers for 3.5 hours , but they did make the appointments.

S1: And so this interim commission , it also had 25 commissioners to supposed to. Supposed to. But but it was whittled down to just eight , as Kelly said. And then it's like they just kind of said , all right , let's just fill the new commission. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. And that was the plan all along as the new commission was going to take the place of the interim , I would just say that the folks who were on the interim commission and community advocates would not have thought that the interim commission would have been whittled down so badly and would have been sort of a shell of itself by the time the new appointments were made. Gotcha.

S6: Gotcha.

S1: Well , we have a new commission here. And Kelly , what are some of the new potential faces that are going to be joining this commission ? I mean , we know that it sounds like they're going to be volunteers. Can you sort of touch on the role that they're going to be playing here ? Yeah.

S3: You know , as you said , they're volunteers and they've got a lot of work to do to to get the the new commission up and running. And so I was it was nice to see , you know , some some names I noted Brandon Philpot and Doug Case , both of whom have served as chairs of the interim commission and of the Community Review Board. They were both appointed. And I think that that is , you know , that that having that institutional knowledge in place will really help the commission get up and running as quickly as possible.


S3: So I can't remember the total number. Scott , do you remember how many total applicants they got ? It was.

S2: I want to say like it was 80 range and some yeah , some of them were whittled down because they may not have met the application criteria. So the number that we're actually at the committee I'm sorry , the council meeting on Monday was less , but I think it was in the 80 ballpark. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. So lots of people , you know , I want to say maybe they whittled it down to 45. But , you know , the application process closed in January. So these folks were waiting , you know , for months to to find out what they were going to have to do to to make that next step , to be become potential commissioners.

S1: And I don't know if you guys had a chance to talk to any of these. Potential commissioners are the ones that became commissioners.

S2: I think I spoke to one who said that , you know , she had about a week's notice to , you know , make sure that she was ready to go for presenting before the city council , which is a challenge not only for making sure that you have a presentation ready that makes the best case for why you believe you should be on the commission. But again , this was a hearing that took place at 10 a.m. on a Monday and carried on through most of the day. So if you're working , it might be difficult to take off , especially if you only have roughly a week's notice. So I did hear some concerns and complaints about that. They were able to accommodate the city council was able to accommodate by having some people come make their presentation through video conference. But I did hear that as a complaint from some.

S1: And Kelly , you know , I think you guys have both noted in some of your reporting that appointing new commissioners is just kind of the first step here.

S3: So they need to to put together their standard operating procedures. They're going to have to train these new commissioners. And Doug Case , who is the current interim commissioner , chair of the commission , he said that that's going to be about 30 hours. They need to do background checks on all the commissioners. You think they might have done that beforehand , but they still need to get that done and they need to hire staff. So I'm not quite sure where they are in the process of hiring staff. But , you know , first on the list is executive director.

S1: And both of you feel free to jump in here on this one.

S2: I've heard that there's a hope that now that the commissioners are appointed and they can start on the training , which also , Kelly , I heard was like 25 to 30 hours. And it's pretty intensive. Once they have that , once they complete that , they may be able to start with case review. So at least restarting that basic oversight function of , okay , there's an allegation against police , police investigate it , the commission can take that and review it and make recommendations. And so that may happen in the coming months. I think there's optimism that that can happen in the coming months. But as far as creating the rules and hiring the staff needed to start conducting independent investigations , which is a tall task , that's that's a challenging thing. But again , something that overwhelmingly the voters of San Diego said , we want this. I had heard anywhere from a year to two years the acting chair of the interim commission , Doug Case , said he wouldn't expect that and for another 18 to 24. Or months. Again , that kind of fully active commission as described by Measure B.

S1: But like in the meantime , Kelly , what happens in the meantime here ? I mean , is this interim commission still there , just like an understaffed interim commission that's still doing some type of additional review for the police department ? Yeah.

S3: And you know , I talked to Doug Case , who said that , you know , he is looking at ways to streamline the process of conducting reviews and to continue to conduct reviews. You know , there was a point where he thought the board would would have to stop operating. But he said that now that they've got the new commissioners in place , he thinks that they could go back to reviewing , reviewing complaints and prioritizing , like I said , the category one , the most serious complaints. So , yeah , I think it's definitely something to to watch to see if they're able to pick things up a little bit and also how long it takes to hire the staff of investigators that they're they're going to need to start doing those independent investigations.


S2: And there is concern about you have these new commissioners coming in. Do you want to dump 150 plus cases on their plates to then have to try to get through to catch up and get back to a clean slate ? Do you want to have kind of a more broad audit of all of the cases and or something in between ? I think everyone agrees that they don't want to just leave those backlog cases behind , but that's going to be a big challenge , figuring out how to deal with that backlog and yet giving the new commission , the new commissioners , the tools they need to be successful.

S1: So they could be operating almost like the same time a little bit.

S6: I think.

S2: By the letter of the law , so to speak. Once the new commissioners are seated and they officially are there as the new commission , the interim commission ceases , there might be some ability for the old commission to provide some guidance , I believe. I think there's there was some room for overlap like that. But technically , I think once the new commission is seated and operational , the interim commission will no longer be.

S1: And so kind of sounds like what you're saying is like the new commissioner should expect to maybe hit the ground running or they may they might get plopped with a large caseload in.

S6: Front of them.

S2: It's possible. And there's just concern about not wanting to immediately burn out these new commissioners. So trying to figure out how that they can , again , address that backlog and give the new commissioners the best chance for success moving forward.

S1: We'd like to hear your thoughts. Is the city doing enough to keep police accountable ? Give us a call at (619) 452-0228. You can leave us a message there or email us at Roundtable at Coming up after the break , what steps remain for the police commission to do what voters expect ? You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about the state of San Diego's community oversight of police. Joining us is Kpbs investigative reporter Scott Rod and independent journalist Kelly Davis. You know , Scott , we've talked about the city council , you know , and there may be responsibility for some of the slow walking involved in getting this commission up and running.

S2: And I believe actually I saw a tweet from the mayor's spokesperson recently where someone had kind of pointed the finger at the mayor saying , look , this commission hasn't stood up and criticizing the mayor. And the spokesperson said , actually , it's really is is not on the mayor. You know , it's really the city council's job here. So my understanding is really it was much more so in the city council's court to determine the best path forward for this commission. Gotcha.

S1: Gotcha.

S3: You know , the head of the San Diego Police Union has said publicly that stronger oversight that the commission on police practices , as it's envisioned , will cause officers to leave the police force. And he has described the commission as having , quote , a radical abolish the police agenda. So , you know , while the police department has stayed quiet on things , the police union has definitely been very outspoken.


S3: They weren't against it. There's a new president of the police union and he's been a lot more vocal on things. One of the big issues that that they went head to head on the police union and the the folks who authored Measure B and were advocating for it is whether or not a person who has any record of a felony could be appointed to the commission. And it's actually very rare to ban someone who has a felony conviction to ban that person from being on a police oversight board. I remember checking on this for a story I did a year or so ago. And so , you know , that that was one of the the issues when they were negotiating with the police union over how the ordinance would look. You know , folks didn't want the police union didn't want people with a felony conviction to sit on the board. But eventually they you know , they got that that language was removed. And , you know , now , folks , if you have a felony conviction , you can apply to be a commissioner.

S1: It also sounds like this new commission will have subpoena power.

S3: It's not unusual. It's it's common because if you can't get from the police department documents and records that you need to complete your investigation , then you're going to need to file a subpoena to get those documents and records and the county's law enforcement review board has subpoena power. You know , it rarely needs to use it , but it's an important tool for any good law enforcement , oversight board or commission to have in its back pocket.

S1: Let's get into a little bit of the reporter's notebook here with both of you guys are how you guys sort of dive into a story like this , because I imagine that there's a lot here. And I know , Scott , for you , this was your first investigative story with Kpbs. You sort of mentioned how you you know , you had seen some maybe they weren't doing as many reviews or not not really nearly as many reviews as they were doing before.


S6: Want the truth ? Yeah.

S2: I didn't set out to do this investigation. I didn't. I barely knew where my desk was at the station here. I didn't know the bathrooms were here. I was still figuring out my way around generally , and I was making a list of. Sources who I wanted to contact because I knew I was going to be doing stuff related to public safety. So , you know , in my initial days , I was making a list of all the sources I wanted to contact. The Commission on Police practices jumped out to me , and then I looked and saw that there was less than half of the seats filled. So I was like , okay , well , this is kind of a logistical problem just to try to get to know people here. But it's also curious that there are so few people on this commission. When it was I knew it was just such a big deal coming after Measure B , so that's what kind of kickstarted it. So I started digging into it more , looking into the data , started calling people and , you know , they really were open books because again , the people who currently or formerly serve on this commission , they're really passionate about this work. I mean , you don't sign up for this type of stuff unless you really believe in it. And a lot of the people that I talked to were pretty disheartened and they wanted to get the story out that this was important work , but it wasn't happening and wasn't happening at the pace that they wanted it to.

S1: And Kelly , I'm curious your thoughts , the same sort of question , how did you , you know , kind of get onto this story ? I know you've been following Measure B for a little bit , but , you know , sometimes people listening , it's not like , you know , Kelly picks up the phone and call Scott and says , hey , I'm working on this. Are you working on this ? And there's some overlap in the sense of that. Maybe sometimes , but I doubt that happened here.

S3: And it's you know , it's something that if you're not paying attention to it , if the public isn't paying attention to it , if the media isn't paying attention to it , you could end up with very ineffective police oversight. Because , as you know , as as we've seen here , I actually even though I felt like I was covering Measure B in the Commission on Police practices , I felt like I was covering it pretty closely. I didn't know that the board was slowly shrinking. So , yeah , it just it just goes to show that , you know , unless you've got , you know , media or public and advocates who are blowing the whistle and really paying attention to this stuff , you're not going to have the sort of effective police oversight that I think citizens want to see. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And you mentioned that effective police oversight that citizens want to see.

S2: They wanted to see more oversight of police. They wanted to have a stronger oversight function in San Diego. And so I heard frustration. You know , some people who have , you know , this has been on their mind still since Measure B passed. Some folks who may be this jogged their memory and they said , yeah , wait a minute , we were asking for more , you know , authoritative oversight of police. And , you know , some people assume that it was happening behind the scenes. And some people were surprised to learn that this commission was not you know , it was still struggling to get stood up and get become fully active. So that was largely the response that I was seeing.


S3: People are really surprised that it's been , you know , more than two years since they voted for Measure B and , you know , things are still there. It's been small steps closer to having , you know , fully functioning commission on police practices. But right now it's kind of in pieces and there's still a lot of work to be done before it's it's , you know , exactly what was envisioned by by Measure B.

S1: All right. So a question for both of you here. You know , San Diego , it's not the only place seeing some slow responses to potential police misconduct or just even oversight in general. California Attorney General Rob Bonta , he's faced some criticism about allegations that his office is moving too slowly on cases specifically involving police shootings. I'm curious if you all you know , just since you guys have been reporting , have noticed any shifts in how public officials or politicians are maybe tackling police oversight differently than they had been , you know , since 2020 , in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. And either of you , feel free to jump in here.

S3: Oh , well , county wise , they've increased the investigative staff of the County Law Enforcement Review Board. And I think that board has become more assertive , has been passing a lot of policy recommendations. And I think just more and more people are showing up to their meetings , calling in , you know , when they have when they had remote meetings , a lot of people would call in to comment on cases. So it's definitely , I think. Definitely something that the public is paying more attention to. And when the public is paid more attention to it than public officials are going to pay more attention.

S2: I think after , during and after 2020 , public officials largely got the message that the public , by and large , wanted to see more oversight. And I'm talking about San Diego , but also just in general. And I think actions were taken , promises were made with the full intention , I think , of wanting to follow , you know , fulfill that will of the voters. But I think there has been some realizations , again , not just in San Diego , that even if these efforts were made in earnest , it's it can be challenging to follow through. Oversight is not easy. It's time consuming. It can be costly and it can be a touchy subject. So I think that some of the promises that were made in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd following , you know , summer protests , I think that realizing some of those promises has been a challenge. But members of the public , they haven't given up on it. You know , they they want to see that those promises are still fulfilled. So there's still is that , you know , yearning for it. There's still the demand , I believe. But the process of getting there at times , it's been tricky.

S1: So final question for both of you. What's next for this story ? I mean , what are you guys going to be looking for in the weeks and months ahead ? And Kelly , we can start with you.

S3: So I'm really interested in seeing who the commission hires as its executive director. I think that's really important. Who's going to be the person that sets the tone for the future ? So I'll be keeping an eye on that.

S2: There's a lot of stuff to keep an eye on , like , you know , these next few months and even next year or two will be really interesting. Agreed. I want to see the executive director is going to be I'm going to see what I want to see what their staff looks like , the backlog is such a huge sort of lingering question. I hope that that I would hope that that could get addressed so that this commission could , you know , start on its work and have best chance for success. I would be very curious to see what the first investigation is that this commission launches , because not every allegation and probably not by far every allegation made about misconduct is going to be investigated. It's really going to be ones that the commission identifies as , you know , standing out for a certain reason that they believe they need to look into and have independent insight into separate from what the police looks into. So I'll be really curious to see not only when that investigation , that first investigation takes place , but what type of case it is and what the outcome will be.

S3: Yeah , I definitely agree with that. I actually had that jotted down something.


S3: We'll do it together at the same time. There we go.

S1: We're going to have to end it there for this week's edition of Kpbs Roundtable. And I want to thank our guests so much for being here. Kpbs , Scott Rod and Kelly Davis. She's an independent journalist reporting recently with the voice of San Diego. We'd love to hear your thoughts on today's show. You can leave us a voicemail at (619) 452-0228. You can also email us at Roundtable at Don't forget about the roundtable podcast. You can find our show wherever you get your podcasts. Roundtable airs on Kpbs FM at noon on Fridays and again on Sunday at 6 a.m.. Roundtable is produced by Andrew Bracken , and Rebecca Chacon is our technical director. I'm your host , Matt Hoffman. Thanks so much for being here with us and have a great weekend.

A line of police officers in front of the San Diego Police Department headquarters in downtown San Diego on Aug. 29, 2020, before a planned protest against police brutality over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
San Diego Police Department
A line of police officers in front of the San Diego Police Department headquarters in downtown San Diego on Aug. 29, 2020, before a planned protest against police brutality over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Despite strong voter approval of a measure to implement the Commission on Police Practices in 2020, San Diego has seen slow progress on implementing stronger community oversight of police.


Scott Rodd, investigative reporter, KPBS

Kelly Davis, independent journalist