October 04, 2022

Article at Voice of San Diego

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Police Union Says SDPD Officers Are Quitting Because of Oversight Commission That Doesn’t Exist Yet

Breonna Taylor San Diego
San Diego Police officers guard the San Diego Police Department headquarters in downtown as protesters gather on Sept. 23, 2020. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

City labor negotiators and the union representing San Diego police officers are at an impasse in negotiations over who can and can’t serve on the Commission on Police Practices, the independent board that investigates allegations of police misconduct.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the San Diego Police Officers Association argued family members of current or former local law enforcement officers should be able to serve on the board, while city labor negotiators say they shouldn’t. They also split on whether individuals with a felony record can be appointed to the commission – police union representatives say no, and city negotiators say anyone whose criminal record doesn’t bar them from serving on a jury should be eligible.

SDPD Sgt. Jared Wilson, the POA president, said the CPP — which is yet to be fully implemented, in part because of the stalled negotiations — was one of the reasons officers were leaving San Diego for jobs in other cities. He said the commission had a “radical, abolish the police agenda” and that “our cops are better off somewhere else.”

The city’s lead labor negotiator, Tim Davis, said the CPP ordinance was “very carefully crafted and balanced.” He asked the City Council to approve a resolution resolving the impasse, which would allow the ordinance to move forward for an implementation vote at a later date.

Andrea St. Julian, an attorney and co-chair of San Diegans for Justice, who authored the ballot measure that created the CPP, said she has family members in law enforcement whom she consulted when working on the measure.

“There is nothing about me or my background that makes me anti-police,” she said.

Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, whose office oversaw the drafting of the CPP ordinance, said guidance on the makeup of the commission came from the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement—the leading authority on citizen oversight—“and not from anti-police sentiment.”

Councilman Chris Cate was the lone vote against moving the ordinance forward. He said his father is a retired law enforcement officer.

“Being told that I can’t serve on a commission because there might be a perceived conflict of interest… I take that a little personally,” he said.

Councilmembers said they were sympathetic to the POA’s position but were also concerned that allowing a law enforcement presence on the board would erode the trust of communities who’ve pushed for stronger oversight.