Police oversight commission measure moves closer to 2020 ballot


SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee unanimously voted Wednesday to direct the city attorney’s office to review the legality of a proposed ballot measure that would establish an independent oversight commission on police practices.

The measure, proposed by Women Occupy San Diego, would dissolve the city’s Community Review Board on Police Practices and replace it with the commission, which would retain independent counsel and have subpoena power to investigate certain cases of misconduct by local law enforcement officers.

Currently, the CRB is considered an advisory board to the mayor’s office and is represented by the city attorney’s office. The CRB also lacks subpoena power and the authority to investigate police misconduct complaints.

The commission would serve as a hybrid investigatory, review and auditing body.

“I don’t view it as an anti-police measure,” City Councilwoman Barbara Bry said of the proposal. “I view it as a pro-community measure in building more trust between our residents and our police officers.”

The committee also declined further consideration of a measure proposed by City Attorney Mara Elliott that would keep the CRB but grant the board the right to retain independent counsel. The committee voted 3-1 against forwarding the measure to a subsequent committee meeting to avoid confusion between the CRB and the commission.

The commission’s supporters also argued that the cost of keeping the commission running would be offset by reducing the costs of police misconduct, which resulted in the city paying out more than $11 million in lawsuit settlements in 2010 and 2011.

With the committee’s vote, the city attorney’s office will conduct a review of the measure’s legality and compose a draft measure with legally accurate language for the committee to consider at its next meeting in October. If approved by the committee and, eventually, the full council, the measure would appear on the November 2020 ballot.

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