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Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach

Task Force Charter

Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force 500

  1. Background: The Need

    Sonoma County recently experienced a tragedy in the shooting death of Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff when he was seen carrying a BB gun designed as a replica assault rifle. An investigation process is underway currently, including potential federal investigation and civil legal proceedings on behalf of the Lopez family. However, Andy’s death has generated a need for community healing efforts addressing a wide range of issues. This Task Force is being created to address four important issues necessary for this healing through the convening of 21 representative members of the community and ultimately making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

  2. Task Force Charges (4):

    First, the Task Force is charged with reviewing options for, and ultimately recommending within 60 days, a model for an independent citizen review body.

    The options should include the range of composition and powers vested in similar bodies in other communities including, but not limited to, the current status quo in Sonoma County (Grand Jury), using the existing Grand Jury differently, and the four separate models noted below. The review should also look at legal constraints and best practices involved in constituting and using such bodies. Further, the Task Force is specifically directed to explore and develop definitions of transparency for any investigations or reviews to be conducted by the body.

    The following four models should be reviewed with the purpose of developing better relationships, and creating credible citizen oversight and involvement with law enforcement agencies:

    • Citizen Review Board,
    • Police Review/Citizen Oversight Review Board,
    • Police Review/Citizens Police Appeal Board,
    • Independent Citizen Auditor

    In addition, among the powers to be reviewed are the ability to conduct investigations and reviews of citizen deaths resulting from interaction or custody by law enforcement agencies, the ability to subpoena witnesses or citizens to testify to the review body, the ability to review and make recommendations with respect to law enforcement training, including lethal force and cultural diversity training and related protocols used by law enforcement, the ability to review and make recommendations with respect to psychological support given for officers, the ability to make recommendations with respect to communication and education about protocols and training used by law enforcement officers, the ability to make recommendations with respect to education of the community about their rights when interacting with law enforcement officers, and the ability to make recommendations with respect to overall militarization of local law enforcement agencies.

    The goal for the first charge is to develop recommendations that can be adopted by all affected agencies in the county.

    Second, the Task Force is charged with reviewing and recommending by April 30, 2014 options for community policing to be considered with the FY 14/15 budget process. 

    Specifically, the review should include definitions and best practices for community policing and measures of effectiveness used by other communities. Further the recommendations should take into account where such practices and programs would be most helpful in Sonoma County to rebuild trust and address disparities in law enforcement service delivery between communities. At a minimum, the review should look at practices associated with officers and communities getting to know one another, community input into interactions with law enforcement personnel, and various neighborhood educational programming.

    Third, the Task Force is charged with reviewing and recommending by June 1, 2014 whether the Office of Coroner should be separately elected from the Office of Sheriff. 

    Fourth, the Task Force is charged with bringing to the Board of Supervisors any additional feedback from the community on these issues that merits County attention by the end of 2014 and discuss staff generated efforts on these issues

    The Task Force should have the opportunity to review and comment on the work products resulting from the efforts designated for County staff and collect additional feedback from the community on the issues discussed at the Community Healing session and work efforts generated by county staff, particularly Community Engagement, Legislation, Weapon Exchange Programs, training, and Community Resiliency Funding, related to the Andy Lopez tragedy over the course of the year and bring to the Board of Supervisors such feedback that merits County attention periodically and at a minimum at the end of the Task Force’s tenure in December 2014.

    Specifically this feedback should look at whether a sense of accountability to the community has been enhanced and whether there are any additional programs to address community trust and well being that should be recommended.

  3. Approach to the work of the Task Force

    The Task Force is directed to work with all the law enforcement jurisdictions in the County and is directed to be open to public input. The Task Force may develop sub-committees and other guidelines for the conduct of its business but is expected to comply with the Brown Act as an advisory body appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

    Staff from the County Department of Health Services, the County Department of Human Services and the County Administrator will be dedicated to support the Task Force in its efforts and logistics needs. In addition, staff from County Counsel and a wide variety of other County departments will be called on to provide information or other forms of support for this effort.

    Staff will take draft recommendations for each of the charges to appropriate advisory groups and commissions, including but not limited to: the Health Action Council, the First 5 Commission, the Prevention Partnership, the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Advisory Board, the Advisory Board on Alcohol/other Drug Problems, the Mental Health Board, the Commission on AIDS, The Upstream Investments Policy Committee, the Police Chiefs’ Association in Sonoma County, a local Law Enforcement Union Council (or equivalent), and the Sheriff’s Latino Advisory Committee. The Task Force shall incorporate input from these bodies into their final recommendations.

  4. Task Force Composition

    Task Force Members: (to be named when appointed)

    The make-up of this task force is recommended to be 3 members to be appointed by each Board member, 3 recommended by the Sheriff, 2 appointed by the Mayor of the City of Santa Rosa, and 1 recommended for appointment by the District Attorney; to represent our diverse community demographically, geographically, and from all walks of life.

    Ideal task force members will have the ability and commitment to listen and weigh information with an open mind, engage and fully participate in the development of recommendations, and bring professional skills and expertise and\or the ability to articulate a perspective from their experience which represents the diversity of our community.

    The attached matrix provides a framework for assisting to ensure representation as a whole achieves the desired diversity and community inclusion.

  5. Timing

    December 2013 – Task Force Appointed

    January 2014 – Convene Kick Off Meeting

    February 2014 – First set of recommendations due

    April 30, 2014 – Second set of recommendations due

    June 1, 2014 – Third set of recommendations due

    December 31, 2014 – Final set of recommendations due