Saturday, August 27, 2016
[San Diego County] Escondido rejects county Grand Jury call for citizen’s police review board
Think Escondido should have a citizen’s review board for its police department.
Escondido officials this week rejected the recommendation of the San Diego Grand Jury to establish a citizen’s police review board.
Following investigation into “several citizen complaints regarding police behavior in local jurisdictions,” the Grand Jury called on Escondido along with El Cajon, La Mesa, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Chula Vista and Coronado to establish a citizen review board or commission or combine in regional review boards to investigate complaints against law enforcement officers.
The Grand Jury suggested Escondido go it alone with a citizens review board or combine with Oceanside and Carlsbad in a North County regional board to oversee complaints about police actions. It gave these cities until Aug. 23 to respond to the recommendation.
“The openness and transparency of the complaint process, including citizen oversight and the prompt resolution of complaints, are essential to maintaining citizen trust in law enforcement,” the Grand Jury said in its report filed May 25.
Escondido officials just said no.
On behalf of the Mayor and City Council, city manager Graham Mitchell sent a letter to Grand Jury Presiding Judge Jeffrey Barton that said: “The Escondido Police Department has a documented history of resolving complaints regarding police behavior through existing channels and procedures.
“The Escondido Police Department will continue to review and evaluate its current citizen complaint policy to ensure compliance with state laws and the Peace Officer Bill of Rights, and attention to community feedback,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the city “already employs a comprehensive, formal complaint procedure and provides several public outlets for voicing police-related complaints,” adding, that all formal complaints “are vigorously and thoroughly investigated by a fill-time sergeant specifically dedicated to this task. The Department has a robust history of imposing appropriate discipline when an investigation reveals it is warranted.”
Carlsbad’s response had not been revealed as of press time. Oceanside officials rejected the suggestion, saying its complaint and review procedures were fine. Mayor Jim Wood said in an Aug. 10 letter to the Grand Jury that citizen’s review board recommendations were “currently not warranted, nor reasonable given the city’s fiscal status.”
Most of San Diego’s 18 cities have citizens review boards. Dating to 1990, San Marcos, Vista, Santee, Lemon Grove, Poway, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Imperial Beach are covered by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office and the San Diego County Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board. The City of San Diego Citizens Review Board dates to the early 1980s. The National City Community and Police Relations commission dates to 2003.
The San Diego County Grand Jury investigates government operations with a new Grand Jury chosen each year by July 1 based on nominations by San diego county Superior court Judges. Jurors serve for one year only. They are charged with representing county citizens by investigating, evaluating and reporting the actions of local governments and special districts.
August 24, 2016