April 22, 2016 (San Diego) Women Occupy presented an extensive proposal to the city of San Diego during the city charter review. It would have added independent investigators to the Citizens Review Board, as well as made it truly independent from the City Attorney’s office.
The city agreed to the change of the CRB to the Community Review Board and agreed to get an independent counsel on retainer. But as it was pointed to the Charter Committee, the principal obligation of the city attorney is to protect the city from painful and costly lawsuits, if an officer should be proven to be wrong. This creates a pressure to n the CRB to rule in favor of whatever internal affairs finds.
What Women Occupy and other organizations keep pointing out to the city is that there is no trust in the CRB. Kate Yavenditti, a lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild and a member of Women Occupy told the committee: “We are very disappointed with the recommendations. They are just not enough. This is the time for the city council to take real, firm, bold and decisive action.”
The conditions are prefect, moreover the community is behind these reforms. Yavenditti added that the community has learned what the CRB does and does not. “San Diego, in my view, is a forward looking city.” She added that San Diego needs to join other cities across the country, that have “open and transparent civilian review boards.”
The plan as submitted has
- – Independent investigators
- – Subpoena power
- – Transparency and tracking
- – Diversity
- – Name Change (replace citizen to community)
– Independent legal counsel.
Moreover, she pointed to the conflict of interest, for the city. This is a very basic principle learned in law school. She also pointed out that Women Occupy, the city council, the police department and the 27 organizations that endorsed the plan want the same thing, “we all want a truly independent and transparent process that works for every one.”
What this is about is trust. The community, especially commutes of color in San Diego, have an issue of trust with the police department. Dennis W Dawson President of the Earl B Guilliam Bar Association told the Committee, “We want to see the relationship between the African American Community and the San Diego Police Department greatly improved. Right now that relationship is not a good relationship. Trust needs to be established between the African American community and the San Diego Police Department.”
He added that trust needs to exist with all communities in San Diego. These proposals, involving independent investigators and independent subpoena power and independent legal counsell are a must. Dawson insisted that this needs to to go the ballot and let the voters decide.
When the time for the vote came, Marti Emerald said that while reforms are needed, she does not want to throw the baby with the bath water. Chris Cate thanked the activist, but in the end the committee voted to do what activities perceive to be as few reforms as possible.
We thank both Martha Sullivan and United Against Police Terror for pointing to the location of the video of the hearing, We were at Superior Court covering the Robert Branch case.
You can watch the video here: