civilian oversight commission Archives - Page 3 of 4 - Dignity and Power Now

Town Hall Roll Call!

When the 50+ community members attending the Compton public forum on civilian oversight were asked if they supported a commission with subpoena power, almost everyone in the room raised their hands. Subpoena power is imperative to a thorough and complete investigation into complaints against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It is a tool capable of holding deputies and staff accountable for their actions. Even without issuing a subpoena just having the power to can compel the department to turn over records during an investigation.

Photos by Walt Mancini / Pasadena Star-News

Photos by Walt Mancini / Pasadena Star-News

A similar showing of hands were raised when Vincent Harris – one of the seven working group members crafting a proposal for the commission roles, responsibilities, and powers – asked who believed the commissioners should be selected by the community. These sentiments marked the first of nine public forums taking place throughout LA County. These forums are designed to give the community an opportunity to share their views and concerns, so come share them!

All take place from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Monday April 27
700 Exposition Park Drive Los Angeles, 90037

Tuesday April 28
4837 East 3rd Street Los Angeles, 90022

Thursday April 30
625 North San Vincent Blvd. West Hollywood, 90046

Be sure to watch these videos on our five nonnegotiables and let the working group members know you support an oversight commission with teeth!

St. Anne’s Interns Review Working Group Meeting

The women from St Anne’s have been relentlessly making phone calls and attending working group meetings in support of a civilian review board with power. Here they offer their reviews on what it felt like to participate in the working group process.

“My experience was very nervous today because I chose to speak about my oldest brother and why he is doing time. I feel great that they felt my story was a great story and decided not to keep the vote going on with having the nine-member board. What I also liked is that this time they actually seem to be interested in what we were talking about and just listened and didn’t have any bad feedback. Then what I didn’t like is that it was really frustrating that they were on the same vote for an hour and still weren’t satisfied with what they decided on. I also thought that was very confusing.” – Tonisha Jackson

“I just feel that they didn’t care about the community. The community has to be there because they are the ones watching deaths, shootings, and abuse from the sheriff’s department. They are never going to understand the community because they re not in the community’s shoes. On a civilian review board, some people on the working group didn’t pay attention to the title of the discussion today.” – Ana Angeles

“There was a lot of discussion back and forth over two words, ‘and’ and ‘or.’ I also spoke for the first time and I was nervous. My hands were cold after I spoke. There are a lot of options about the nine-member board. It is hard to pay attention because most of the time they ignore what the people say. The community is what matters. The public should be heard because we are affected, not the people up on the board. Because why? White people almost get away with everything. The black and brown community is the one getting affected. The right thing is to stop sheriff violence. Get your voice heard to make sure the violence is stopped.” – Diana Villeda

“I feel they are not really trying to give us what we want as far as the nine-member board. I feel that they’re not trying to let us be involved as far as having to say to pick four members that have been directly impacted. I feel they want all kinds of law enforcement and lawyers. That they all know and keep everything private and away from the people that care. I feel like they spent our time talking about choosing words and fixing grammar when they need to get straight to the point.” – Shaerice Brooks

“Why did they take up so much time deciding on one little word such as ‘and’ or ‘or’? It shouldn’t take rocket science to figure that out. They also want to get the sheriff department involved, why? It’s not about them and what they want shouldn’t matter. I matter. The people that have witnessed and experienced for themselves matter. It’s so stressful to try and make them understand. If it takes to go up there, to call, and to show up to their doorstep, then so be it. I’m a person who knows what I want. We know what we want. We want change. Because at the end of the day, we matter.” – Jasmine Brandon

What’s the Deal with Subpoena Power?

What is subpoena power?

A subpoena is a request under penalty. There are two types of subpoenas. The first requires you to testify in front of a court and the second requires you to produce documents, materials, or other evidence. Without subpoena power the civilian oversight commission could ask the LASD for documents and they could lawfully say “no.” With subpoena power the civilian oversight commission could subpoena documents from the LASD and they would have to comply or face a criminal penalty. Subpoenas are the difference between asking and telling. Subpoena power is power.

Why does the civilian oversight commission need subpoena power?

The LASD has a long history of secrecy, misclassification, and “losing” reports. For example, LASD keeps 30% of the L.A. County homicide and death cases on security holds. That is a significant amount of information withheld from the public! The current Inspector General whose job it is to audit and investigate the department’s handling of complaints has been very public with his inability to access reports. The things that the LASD wants to keep hidden are precisely the things that the civilian oversight commission needs to find out. Subpoena power is necessary for transparency and accountability.

With subpoena power can the commission discipline deputies?

To be clear, subpoena power does not give the commission the power to discipline anyone. State law prevents disciplining deputies via a commission. However with subpoena power the civilian oversight commission can compile data, create legitimate reports, and offer recommendations backed by evidence that will incite a high level of consideration from the board of supervisors and sheriff – who can discipline deputies. Subpoena power is the difference between making a blind recommendation and a credible argument.

So how can the civilian oversight commission get subpoena power?

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors are in the position to do the necessary things to ensure the commission has the opportunity to have subpoena power. They have the power to put a charter amendment on the ballot that the county would then vote on.

If you want the civilian oversight commission to have the ability to make influential arguments based on evidence then tell your working group representative and county district supervisor to put a charter amendment on the ballot so that we the people can vote for subpoena power.

PROGRESS! Community Members In the Running for LASD Oversight!

The hot topic right now among the working group deciding the civilian oversight commission’s size, scope, and responsibilities is COMPOSITION. How many people will serve on the commission and who will they be?

Three years ago when the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence started the conversation of civilian oversight we emphasized two things: 1) That the commission be made of community members who have been impacted by sheriff violence and 2) that there be no law enforcement serving on the commission. Ever since the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a commission last December, we have been attending working group meetings and making phone calls to demand a commission with 9 members, 4 community appointed, and without law enforcement.

Yesterday our demand was realized when the working group adopted our composition proposal! It will be included as the seventh proposal presented to the supervisors for consideration in the upcoming months. Seven is our lucky number! 

Read the proposal here, endorsed by hardworking and ever-present coalition members from the Youth Justice Coalition, Justice Not Jails, and Californians United for a Responsible Budget.

This is a huge step forward in the fight for effective oversight, but we need to keep our voices up to ensure that the community option is the only option! CALL your working group member, commend them for including our composition proposal, and tell them that it is the only option that you support because it’s the only option that ensures EFFECTIVE civilian oversight! 

Because law enforcement already has tremendous amounts of representation.
Because law enforcement on the oversight commission is a conflict of interest.
Because this is a CIVILIAN oversight commission!
Because the people affected by sheriff violence are the ones that actually want to stop it.