Transparency and Representation Are Crucial to New Police Commission's Success | Voice of San Diego

Opinion

Transparency and Representation Are Crucial to New Police Commission's Success

Protesters gather at the on 6th Avenue in downtown where San Diego Police officers shot and wounded a Latino man earlier that day. / photo by Adriana Heldiz

Last November, 75 percent of San Diego voters proved they want more police accountability by passing Measure B, a charter amendment establishing the Commission on Police Practices.

We didn’t vote for a name change to the existing police review board. We voted – overwhelmingly – for community oversight and more control over the SDPD. We didn’t vote for a revised city ordinance with slightly different language. We voted – overwhelmingly – for real change in the way the police themselves are policed here in San Diego.

Following Measure B’s passage, there were months of community-driven roundtables – that hundreds of San Diegans participated in – where members of the public identified vital components that must be part of the new commission. These include:

1) a commission with members representing all of San Diego’s diverse communities, chosen by the people, not by politicians or organizations affiliated with law enforcement;

2) weighted representation by the most over-policed communities in San Diego, districts with the most warrantless stops and searches and areas with the highest number of complaints against the SDPD;

3) full transparency and prompt public communication of all commission actions, including investigation findings;

and, most importantly:

4) independent, comprehensive – and unimpeded – investigations into individual police officer complaints and police department practices.

A Commission on Police Practices implementation ordinance is being considered by the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee on June 24. The committee must not approve, nor send to the City Council for adoption, an ordinance that isn’t founded on these community-developed principles. True accountability for the SDPD cannot happen without representation, transparency and independence – in both letter and spirit – being included in the ordinance and in the commission itself.

We are at the point where we need our Council members to show they are listening to what the people of San Diego want on this issue. Otherwise, our Council is just standing back and letting SDPD power continue to grow unchecked. And that is not what 75 percent of San Diego voted for.

Deidre McLeod is a textile artist who has resided in San Diego County for 20-plus years and currently lives in Carmel Mountain Ranch.

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