Measure B Gives San Diego Voters Chance to Finally Beef Up Police Oversight

by on October 21, 2020 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, San Diego

San Diego police officers rampage against non-violent Occupy San Diego protesters in 2011.

By Claire Trageser / KPBS News / October 21, 2020

San Diego voters will have the opportunity in the November election to create more robust community oversight on the actions of police officers.

Activists wanted a stronger community review board for the police department back in 2016, but settled for Measure G, which made smaller changes.

Then they tried again in 2018, but the City Council did not act quickly enough to put the measure on the ballot.

Now, in 2020, Measure B is asking voters to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would have members appointed by the City Council, its own staff, an independent attorney and the power to subpoena and conduct investigations into police officer misconduct.

The commission would also review complaints against officers and investigate in-custody deaths, shootings by police and other allegations of misconduct. Finally, it would make recommendations on police officer discipline and police policies.

“If something happens in San Diego that the community is concerned about, the new commission can do a full investigation, so the community can be satisfied there was independent investigation,” said Andrea St. Julian, co-chairwoman of San Diegans for Justice, which has been pushing for Measure B.

The existing Community Review Board on Police Practices “advises the mayor, but it can’t do any independent investigation of complaints against police,” St. Julian said. “It lacks the independence that’s needed for the community at large to feel comfortable about its role investigating police misconduct.”

There is no organized opposition to Measure B. The San Diego Police Officers Association is neutral on it.

“The voters can decide what type of oversight they have,” said police union president Jack Schaeffer.

The measure has several main supporters, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the California Nurses Association and the San Diego County Democratic Party. The City Council voted unanimously to put it on the ballot.

Police oversight has been a hot-button issue nationwide this year in the wake of the George Floyd killing and other instances of police violence. But St. Julian believes it would pass even without those events.

“Police officers are professionals just like doctors and lawyers and dentists, and they deserve to be treated in the same way, and that means having independent oversight,” she said. “People get that immediately, and they got it long before the current climate.”

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