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Human Resources Department

Commission on Human Rights

Resolution in Support of Reassigning Sonoma County Sheriff Deputy Erick Gelhaus

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Resolution put forth by 1st District Commissioner and Vice Chair, Dmitra Smith. Resolution passed with a 5-0-2 vote on April 26, 2016. Two Commissioners abstained and two were absent.

Whereas, Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of California states that “The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for the common good;” and

Whereas, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes the individual's "inherent right to life" and requires it to be protected by law; and

Whereas, over 2550 signatures were collected from the community and presented to the Commission on Human Rights voicing opposition to Deputy Gelhaus’ return to street patrol after the shooting of 13 year old Andy Lopez; and

Whereas, the Commission has heard numerous continuing concerns from the public in response to Deputy Gelhaus being returned to street patrol, including strong discomfort, a sense of a lack of consequence, a feeling of diminished safety, anxiety and fear; and

Whereas, the Community Engagement and Healing Subcommittee of the CALLE task force submitted a letter of concern to Sheriff Freitas to strongly reconsider placing Deputy Gelhaus on street patrol; and

Whereas, the Mission Statement of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office states that “In partnership with our communities, we commit to provide professional, firm, fair and compassionate public safety services with integrity and respect; and

Whereas, it is the opinion of the Commission on Human Rights that the killing of a child by law enforcement in our county under these circumstances constitutes a grave and serious matter, that tangible steps of consequence and proactive repair must be taken to restore trust between the community and law enforcement, and that a return to street patrol by Deputy Gelhaus does not advance these goals.

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved on this 26th Day of April, 2016, that the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights strongly urges Sheriff Steve Freitas to consider reassigning Deputy Erick Gelhaus from street patrol to the extent permitted with state and county labor and employment laws.