Updates on current state of the office

Published:  December 17, 2019

The Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO) has begun using a new email notification system as a way to get information to our supporters and community partners in a way that is efficient and timely. We are asking for your support getting the word out about this helpful new tool.  On the lower, right-hand side of IOLERO's homepage there is a box that says, “Subscribe Now! Join our email list to receive updates from IOLERO.”  Please tell others and sign up here:   https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/IOLERO/

As part of our effort to provide information to the whole community, we will be sending out periodic updates about IOLERO's work and events via this new system.  The first update was entitled a "A Message from the Director" and it was sent on December 13, 2019.  The message discussed IOLERO's current work plan in the wake of David Ward’s death during an arrest by Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies.  You may access that message here:  https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/IOLERO/News/Message-from-the-Director-December-13-2019/   

Regarding the other work of the office:  As many of you know, IOLERO has been in the midst of a crisis after the new director discovered a massive backlog that existed before she came into the office including two officer-involved shootings and 24 other complaints by community members alleging excessive force, racial bias and improper procedure, to name a few.  We have been working hard at IOLERO to address the new, incoming complaints/audits with an eye toward addressing the backlog.  A standard audit takes about 50 - 60 hours to complete depending on complexity and an audit of an officer-involved shooting takes approximately four to six months to complete.    

Updates on the current state of the office:  

  1. New Full-Time Employee:  The Board of Supervisors (BOS) responded to the backlog crisis by approving Director Navarro's request for a new full-time position for IOLERO on October 8, 2019.  This full-time "Programs Manager" position will help alleviate some of the Director's duties so that the director can focus on the audits.  The Programs Manager will assist with department head duties such as budget work, strategic work plans, department head meetings, personnel matters, media relations, advertising, grant-writing, drafting BOS agenda items, preparation of the annual report, management of the Community Advisory Council (CAC) and other community outreach.  However, due to the recruitment, interview and background check process, the soonest we will be able to get a new full-time employee into the office is February 2020.  
  2. Emergency / Triage Operations at IOLERO: In the meantime, while the director manages the recruitment, interview and background check process for the new full-time employee, IOLERO's director was instructed to focus on audits, i.e., to not fall behind on current audits and find a pathway to start chipping away at the backlog.  Since IOLERO is a two-person office, and only the director may conduct audits, the only way to keep up with the new incoming complaints/audits is to triage the office's other duties.,  This emergency / triaging attack plan is only temporary.  Once the new full-time employee is in the office and has received some training, we will get a better idea of how much more work we can absorb and we will start re-incorporating some of the duties that have been reduced temporarily.  Once we have a better idea of the state of the office with three full-time employees, additional staffing needs will be evaluated and communicated to the Board of Supervisors.  
  3. Audits:  Since the emergency operations system of focusing on audits and triaging was implemented in October, the director has completed five audits.  The Sheriff's Office already has implemented or is in the process of implementing several of IOLERO's recommendations based on those five audits.  First, based on a recommendation from IOLERO that arose out of an audit, the Sheriff’s Office is implementing a new preventative policy aimed at reducing the incidence of force and/or injury during the transportation of arrestees.  For example, after an individual is arrested, during transportation to the jail for booking, this new policy will help reduce the need to use force and the potential for injury.  Second, based on another recommendation that arose out of an audit, the Sheriff's Office is also implementing a new system at the jail designed to reduce the chance of error during the notification process to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

    As mentioned, the director has completed five audits.  In two of the cases where the director agreed with the Sheriff's Office, an employee was disciplined for a violation of policy and the IOLERO director agreed with that decision.  In one of those two cases, the IOLERO director suggested the discipline of a second employee which is being evaluated by the Sheriff's Office.  In a recent audit, the IOLERO director disagreed with the Sheriff's conclusion and the Sheriff's Office is currently reconsidering the case. 
  4. Periodic Audit Reports:  When audits are backlogged, it means that complaints made by community members about important concerns such as excessive force sit un-reviewed by IOLERO.  When audits are completed and recommendations are made to the Sheriff's Office, evidence-based policy changes happen as in the case with the new policies mentioned above related to the use of force/transportation of arrestees, ICE reporting and employee discipline.  In the interest of best serving our community, staying current on the complaints/audits and transparency of law enforcement operations, IOLERO will be releasing periodic updates about complaints/audits including the number and scope of complaints/audits received and completed, recommendations made and policy changes implemented as a result of the audits.  These periodic audit updates will go out via the new email notification system and will be posted on our website.  The periodic updates will be in addition to an annual report.  The next annual report is expected in the summer of 2020.
  5. Town Hall Meeting in January:  In anticipation of the release of body-worn-camera footage of the arrest and death of Mr. Ward, IOLERO will be holding a town hall meeting on January 13, 2020 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.  The town hall meeting will be held at Sonoma Human Services, South County Center, 5350 Old Redwood Highway North, Petaluma, CA in the Bantam Training Room.


Contact Information

Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach

County of Sonoma

Contact us by Phone
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

3333 Mendocino Avenue

Suite 240

Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.4693993, -122.7929972
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