Neha Pubbi | Torrey Pines High School Senior
On November 3rd, the City of San Diego residents will be voting on the Commission on Police Practices Amendment that is on their ballots. The measure will amend the City Charter to replace the Community Review Board on Police Practices with the Commission on Police Practices, an independent commission with members appointed by the City Council. The San Diego City Council unanimously voted to put this ballot measure before voters on July 7th, 2020.
The Commission’s powers would be used to investigate complaints against officers regarding shootings, misconduct, use of excessive force, inappropriate policies or procedures by departments, dishonesty by an SDPD officer relating to the reporting, investigation or prosecution of a crime, and Police Department legal compliance. The Amendment allows officers to appeal the Commission’s findings to the Civil Service Commission.
The Amendment would disband the current police practice board, Community Review Board on Police Practices. Their current responsibilities include reviewing and evaluating complaints by the public against officers of the San Diego Police Department. It does not have independent legal counsel, and investigations are conducted by San Diego Police Department Internal Affairs.
The new commission would require independent legal counsel with no conflicts, have the power to subpoena law enforcement, and conduct independent investigations to ensure police accountability.
A simple majority vote is needed to pass the amendment. The Police Officers Association has pledged to stay neutral on the issue and let the county have its say this November. In wake of protests about police brutality and George Floyd’s death, San Diego’s Mayor Kevin Faulconer expressed his support for the measure in June 2020. Eighteen counties around the country have similar measures on the November ballot.
The new commission as proposed would likely cost between $1.1 million and $2.3 million annually, according to the city’s office of the Independent Budget Analyst. The current board’s budget is also around $1 million.
A similar measure in 2018 was suggested by Women Occupy San Diego, a social justice organization whose mission is to create an equitable economic system and restoring the government through inclusive actions and outreach. They have been working for years to establish an independent review counsel. The 2020 measure was proposed by the San Diegans for Justice coalition.