subpoena Archives - Dignity and Power Now

#300Problematic Deputies the Sheriff Wants to Expose but the Unions are Hiding

Hey y’all. Mark-Anthony Johnson, Dignity and Power Now.

So LA Times put out an article today written by Maya Lau.

A court is blocking LA County Sheriff, Sheriff McDonnell, from handing over a list of 300 problematic deputies.


300. So, let’s talk about this. Right, so, his own Internal Affairs Bureau has identified 300 personnel, actually some of them are ranking officers, whose conduct within the department has included theft, bribery, brutality, the gamut. And he wants to give this list over to the district attorney.

I think it’s timely, right, you know, we’ve got the Tanaka trial, the Baca trial is happening. And given the history of law enforcement abusing folks, lying, making up testimony. Perfectly valid. That the DA should be able to look at this list of officers, who may be called to testify, and question whether their history of misconduct actually calls into question their testimony. Perfectly fair.

But what’s happening? The district attorney is rejecting the list. Just doesn’t want the list. The sheriffs’ union is making a whole stink about it, saying that it’s violating their officers’ privacy and they don’t want to demonize their deputies that may have done something a long time ago. And three, they got an appellate judge to block any names, to just put a hold on any names period being given to the DA right now.

1. DA’s rejecting the list
2. Sheriffs’ union blocking
3. Court judge is putting a hold

So what does that mean? If the sheriff himself, Sheriff Top Dog McDonnell, can’t even make a list of people in his own department that he’s identified as problematic, he can’t even make that list useful for the sake of transparency and accountability, then the people need to have the power to make misconduct reports, and documents, and records useful. For transparency and accountability. That means changing state law. Right? Just like in 25 other states around the country police misconduct reports are public. Ten of which you don’t even need a ruling, there doesn’t even need to be a ruling that police misconduct was even determined! But in California we can’t do that.

So, change the state law to make police misconduct reports public. And then make sure the civilian oversight of the sheriff’s department has the power to subpoena the sheriff’s department. For times like this. Exactly these type of moments. When the DA is rejecting the misconduct records, when the sheriffs’ union is blocking them, and when a court judge is putting a hold on them. Where do they go? They belong in the hands of the community. So we can expose it, so we can make them useful, for accountability and transparency.

Just sayin’.

Get at us Thursday 9:30 AM, Civilian Oversight Commission meeting, Bob Hope Patriotic Hall. Be there.

Transcribed from a video originally posted via Facebook Live February 20th, 4:24 PM.

Through and To the Criminal Judicial System

My personal experience brought me through and to the criminal judicial system. I was found guilty at trial for something that I did not do and was sentenced to one year in county jail. While incarcerated for 6 months in 2011 at the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF), I was sexually abused by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies and by medical staff.

When I filed complaints in my first month at CRDF they all fell on deaf ears.

This experience brought me to my role as a Dignity and Power Now campaign lead for support of a Civilian Oversight Commission over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

As campaign lead I researched for one year civilian oversight commissions and review boards all across the US, Canada, and Europe. My research included budgets, size of police and sheriff’s departments, salaries, staffing, litigation costs, subpoena power, how many commission members, policy, and protocol. I consistently brought forth pertinent information to share with the working group members like what was working for oversight/review boards across the US and what is necessary for future effective civilian oversight commissions.

My research was to sharpen our knowledge of our 5 non-negotiable demands. Subpoena power, no former or current law enforcement, direct the work of the Office of Inspector General, a nine seat panel, and independent counsel. After one year here is what we won: 1. no current law enforcement, 2. nine seat member commission. Now we are in a fight for the Civilian Oversight Commission to obtain subpoena power by changing County Charter.

The purpose of subpoena power is to have access to police personnel files for more transparency and accountability within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during investigations regarding police misconduct and excessive use of force. Without subpoena power we simply have an incomplete investigation.

This type of thorough investigation would have helped my personal experience at Century Regional Detention Facility. A civilian oversight commission with subpoena power increases transparency and accountability within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during police misconduct investigations.

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My personal experience with advocacy is hands-on education and learning with the American Civil Liberties Union in April 2016. I went to the capital in Sacramento and learned how to lobby senators, assemblymen, and assemblywomen with an ACLU constitutional attorney in support of SB-1286. SB-1286 (or the Police Officer Misconduct Bill) is a bill that would grant subpoena power to all civilian oversight/review boards in the state of California. Although currently waiting to be brought up again in the next bill cycle, SB-1286 is another viable route to make sure Los Angeles County’s Civilian Oversight Commission has the power it needs to be effective.

Stay tuned to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with my work as civilian oversight campaign lead and the fight to change County Charter and pass SB-1286!

We Made History, Now Let’s Secure the Victory

Three years ago the idea of civilian oversight was farfetched, not possible, and according to the sheriff’s department unnecessary given what they already had in place. On Tuesday the county supervisors voted to approve several key features of this commission. We watched as the board of supervisors voted in favor of a motion that justified the presence of former law enforcement on the commission and gave the district attorney a formal channel to weigh in on the selection process. The language of the motion warns that restricting law enforcement from sitting on the commission would be “overtly discriminatory.”
 
Those of us who have been in this fight are disappointed that the board would blur the civil rights history of the term “discrimination” in a moment where #BlackLivesMatter actions over the last three years have exposed the targeting of Black people by law enforcement. We are deeply troubled with the board’s decision to entertain the idea of former law enforcement sitting on this commission in the same year that former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka will be on trial for corruption charges and while former Sheriff Baca has been denied immunity in that trial. Both of them have had their reigns on the department for at least a decade.

While Dignity and Power Now and the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence are in this work for the long haul and while many civilian oversight bodies have increased their powers and refined their structures over time, we are not interested in repeating those histories. It took the New York Civilian Review Board over twenty years to get where it is now with more effective leadership, subpoena and disciplinary power, and an average rate of substantiating complaints of 70 days. It’s not uncommon for complaints to take a over a year to process in other cities. We don’t have that kind of time. This historical moment requires us to fight for the totality of our vision and for that vision to be realized at the outset. The Coalition to End Sheriff Violence has been pushing five non-negotiable demands that are the foundation of that vision.

As we move forward, we are clear that creating independent civilian oversight over the largest sheriff’s department in the country – running the largest jail system in the world – is a historic accomplishment. We also know that the victory for Black and Brown people who bear the brunt of incarceration and excessive force in Los Angeles must be secured and protected. For us victory is ensuring that formerly incarcerated people are on this commission. Victory is ensuring that the input of the district attorney does not in practice undermine the input of the community during the selection process. Victory is securing subpoena power for the commission. Victory is ensuring that former law enforcement are not appointed to a commission that community members across L.A. County have demanded be reserved for civilians.

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!

THERE ARE 3 PUBLIC FORUMS REMAINING!
All take place from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Monday April 27
EXPOSITION PARK
700 Exposition Park Drive Los Angeles, 90037

Tuesday April 28
EAST LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY
4837 East 3rd Street Los Angeles, 90022

Thursday April 30
WEST HOLLYWOOD LIBRARY
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!

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