- Voice of San Diego - https://www.voiceofsandiego.org -

Morning Report: Obscure Sheriff Review Board Under Scrutiny

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Administration Center / Photo by Megan Wood

There is a little-known internal board that reviews use-of-force incidents at the San Diego Sheriff’s Department called the Critical Incident Review Board, and it’s coming under scrutiny.

The CIRB has been thrust to the center of a federal lawsuit [1] brought by the family of a man with schizophrenia who died after an altercation with deputies at a county jail in 2018, reports VOSD’s Ashly McGlone.

Sheriff’s deputies used tasers, pepper spray, water balls and pinned the visibly distraught man, Paul Silva, to the ground with a body shield to try and subdue him to take him to a medical evaluation. They left him unconscious. Silca was transported to the hospital and remained in a coma until he died a month later.

Under the Sheriff’s Department policies, in-custody deaths like Silva’s and other use-of-force incidents like officer-involved shootings or encounters that end in great bodily injury must be scrutinized by the CIRB. The board is separate from the outside body that scrutinizes Sheriff’s cases known as the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board. Unlike CLERB, the activities of CIRB, and any findings or recommendations it makes, have long remained under wraps, and the Sheriff’s Department wants to keep it that way.

In their lawsuit, Silva’s family accuses the department of wrongful death, arrest without probable cause and claims existing officer accountability mechanisms, like CIRB, have instead created an environment that allows officers to kill with impunity. The family’s attorney said the releasing the CIRB’s report could show that the internal oversight system doesn’t work.

Sheriff’s officials have claimed that attorney-client privilege shields CIRB reports. The Sheriff’s Department’s chief legal adviser is a member of the board, though only in a non-voting capacity. The remaining four board members are high-ranking commanders from each bureau.

Pete Wilson Statue Returns

Not quite two months ago, the owner of a statue of former Gov. Pete Wilson removed it from its downtown location, after activists said his role pushing a policy that would have excluded unauthorized immigrants from California life made him unworthy of public tribute.

But the statue is back, as Sara Libby reported Wednesday [2], with the owner saying it was temporarily removed to ensure it wasn’t harmed, and touting it as a symbol of Wilson’s success attracting investment to downtown’s redevelopment.

The statue “is a symbol of all that is great about San Diego and its unlimited future,” said Stephen B. Williams, the president of Horton Walk, a nonprofit that owns the statue.  

In Other News

Clarification: This post has been updated to clarify a tweet by Mayor-elect Todd Gloria about the Convention Center. Though the Union-Tribune reported that the Convention Center shelter is scheduled to close, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office disputed that account in an email after this post initially published.

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.