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"Sonoma County law enforcers are notorious for....and violation of civil rights. There is a pressing need for independent investigations of police misconduct. "
Very true, there is a serious problem of culture within the sheriff's organization, a problem of attitude, arrogance and contempt for citizens' civil rights. I don't know about Threet's "audit" process, but he here discloses he is not considering complaints of more than one year old. He would do well to look at more complaints including older ones and look for patterns of abuse. I filed a written complaint myself and was completely dissatisfied with the "acted appropriately" finding, or whatever they called it. Would have filed another regarding a separate encounter with a different deputy for similar reasons but knowing it would be a waste of time didn't bother.
Peter Byrnes Open Mic column raised the legitimate question of whether the newly created Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO) is worth the money necessary to run it. Of course, these questions were discussed at length in multiple public forums by county officials and community members for over a year, the public largely supported the proposal, and county supervisors approved the model creating our office. Byrne now again raises this issue, but in a way that distorts the facts we provided him.
IOLERO has a total budget of $527,335. Approximately 75% of the budget is made up of salaries and benefits of the agencys two employees, the Director and Administrative Coordinator. My salary as Director is around $160K, plus benefits, for a total of about $263K in compensation. My assistants salary is approximately $63K, plus benefits, for a total of about $122K in compensation. Because the IOLERO Director is required to be an attorney, the compensation for that position is commensurate with public attorney salaries. In accepting this position, I took a salary cut from the $180K I previously received as a Deputy City Attorney. I did so because I believe this is important work.
The remaining $130K includes support services and supplies, which account for 25% of the budget. More than the refreshments mentioned by Byrne, this covers rents/utilities, advertising and marketing, translations services, professional memberships, conferences (such as the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement), software licenses, business travel, etc. This also includes about $40K for the possible relocation of our office, which we have decided against spending in order to preserve continuity of the current location and save money.
Byrne asks what you are getting for this money, and focuses on my decision to forgo additional review of the Andy Lopez shooting. Ill turn to that in a minute. First, lets look at what our office has been doing. When I started last April, I began to set up an entirely new department from scratch, including a work plan, websites, social media, office procedures, audit protocols, hiring an assistant, meetings with stakeholders, and outreach to communities. From April until July of 2016, those start-up tasks took all of my time, but by August of last year, we were fully staffed, and up and running. So, what are our missions?
First, we provide independent civilian review of investigations of complaints against Sheriffs Deputies. Since August of 2016, we have 25 such investigations in our log, 15 of which have been completed by the Sheriff's Office and referred to IOLERO for review. Of those 15, we have completed 8 audits. 3 of these audits resulted in recommended changes to Sheriffs policies. In 6 of them, IOLERO agreed with the findings of the investigation exonerating the deputy of wrongdoing. In 2 of them, IOLERO disagreed with the finding of exonerated. While our office has no authority to impose a contrary finding on a complaint investigation, neither do most civilian oversight agencies in the country.
Second, we conduct robust outreach to Sonoma County communities, to bring community feedback back to the Sheriffs Office and to help explain Sheriffs policies to community members. We also try to bridge gaps where they exist. I've had over 100 meetings and met with many hundreds of community members since last April, including most recently close to 200 members of the undocumented immigrant community in small settings, hearing their concerns and explaining Sheriffs policies that may affect them. We have an 11 member Community Advisory Council that holds meetings to review policies and recommend changes. Our current focus is on immigration policies of the Sheriffs Office. Both the CAC and I will soon be making formal recommendations for changes in the Sheriffs policies in this area. We will then turn to review other policies, such a body worn cameras, and use of force. The most important opportunity to change law enforcement interactions that the public wants improved is through changes in the policies that guide deputy actions.
Finally, Byrne correctly states that I declined to review the Lopez shooting, but significantly misrepresents my explanation. IOLERO's general policy is not to audit completed investigations over 1 year old, as the statute of limitations has passed on any possible discipline for the deputy for any violation of policy. In addition, the Lopez shooting was independently reviewed by the District Attorney and by the U.S. Department of Justice, both of which cleared the deputy of a wrongdoing. Finally, the Lopez case is being litigated in federal civil court, where the issue of whether the deputy followed policy is being fully explored by an independent magistrate. Give these multiple reviews, and the passage of the statute of limitations on discipline for the deputy, there is little a review by our office could add at this late juncture. Because there are other investigation currently pending in our log where our review could make a difference, it makes little sense to focus our limited resources on the 2013 Lopez shooting.
I appreciate the Bohemian publishing my OpenMic on the march, as well as a link to Maria de los Angeles' article on the New York march. This talented, young, Mexican artist is a frequent visitor to Santa Rosa. A longer version of my article has been published at over a dozen national sites; it can be read at the following link, which includes photos: http://www.hopedance.org/home/awakenings/3….
The "Resist, Refuse, Sue" article in this week's Boho is must-reading. Rep. Jared Huffman's closing comments are worth considering: "...there is reason to believe there will be the most credible case for impeachment you'll ever see."
We can't really be picky with such a long weird name, but we are the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Santa Rosa. - Rev. Chris.
Response to E. G.Singer
E.G., Thank you for showing your support for #DAPL, however, I feel you missed the point that this a victory for Tribal Sovereignty. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Tribal council and Elders made this a reality. It was begun by Native youths but sovereignty is what leads. Neither individuals nor organizations are sovereigns. It is wonderful to see the support from around the world for this effort. Water is sacred, thank you for your thoughts.
Native Media Resource Center
There is no way you are christian dude. If you knew what the communists you would put in power would rewrite the bible if you were allowed to have one, then once the muslims kicked their ass, you would get a Qu'ran or a guillatine. Soft head. This is more typical crap that goes on in Stett Holbrooks sandbox.
I am encouraged to see the Bohemian publish Sheperd's article about Standing Rock's efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. This issue is not getting enough coverage in the media and the honest coverage has mostly come from independent journalists so I appreciate seeing this in a local paper very much. I attended both actions in Santa Rosa on the 15th and know our community will continue coming together to support Standing Rock on the long road ahead. Please be sure all or your friends and family know about this and don't assume they have heard. These are reliable sites for donations, information about what is happening on the ground and actions nationwide :
Thank you Sheperd!!
Thank you for Shepherd Bliss's article on Standing Rock. It is essential to have this kind of thorough coverage, as local, national and, already, international awareness grows.
Well done Bohemian!
And thank you Shepherd.
Great to see this article by Shepherd on this very important ongoing effort by Water Protectors and allies. One correction is the cost of the pipeline is in billions not millions - 3.8 billion. Many from this area have traveled up and are helping in their way. Those of us behind have many ways to contribute as Shepherd points out.
Thanks Stett. We can certainly use a trustworthy press right now.
What can we do about it? There is a fourth option--REJOICE!
YES ON PROP 57!!!!
Too many of our police officers are acting from fear of, rather than from love of, their fellow human beings. We do not adequately educate or train them to fulfill the only oath they take which is to "serve, protect, and defend" the Constitutional Rights of All People, not just the ones who look, sound, and smell like the wealthy living on the right side of the tracks.
I hesitate to comment in the Bohemian as they have over-edited my comments before but, I sure agree with Padi Selwyn; the current growth rate of permitting more wineries especially in rural neighborhoods needs to be reviewed more carefully. The one big industry in our county has for too long enjoyed the full support of our county supervisors. Their appointees to the planning commission have rubber stamped too many of the projects brought before them.
With a weakened coastal commission, and more investors seeking to put wineries on our coastal hills, we need to Elect a 5th district supervisor not beholden to the big moneyed interests.
This rampant over-development by the wine industry impacts not only Sonoma County, but our neighbors in Napa, Mendocino, Lake, and more recently Solano Counties. I enjoy wine and there are certainly many good grape growers and wine makers in our region, to which the wine industry makes important contributions. However, given that wine is a boom-and-bust product, it has become a serious threat to our economy--too many eggs in the same basket. 96% of the veggies and fruit sold in Sonoma County are imported from outside, according to Go Local, which means that we are no longer a food ag county. In terms of food security, this is a dangerous imbalance that must be addressed.
Quoting from the piece, "Yet buried in the pages of the proposition is a specific change to the licensing framework. In just a handful of words, the AUMA creates a new cultivation license with no limit on the scale of cultivation, effectively repealing protections for small farms that were enacted by the state Legislature."
Unless a state ballot measure is a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, rather than a simple ballot measure, anything and everything can be changed by the state legislature. It is more work and money to lobby to change it to Craft Cannabis people's liking but it could and should happen. All this potential gloom and doom of wiping out the small grower can be changed by the legislature, especially if the elected Prohibitionists finally realize, as some of them already have, that Craft Cannabis cultivation is a sizeable part of their constituents' local economy, and has been in some parts for 30-40 years--sort of kill the goose that lays the golden egg theory! Now that it is in the "mainstream", Craft Cannabis money flowing in the local economy is bigger than ever. Allow the local economy to be killed and they will be voted out of office and replaced. The legislature can change whatever they want by passing future legislation, slyly or overtly, good or bad. The Craft Cannabis side just has to work harder for that to happen to what the Cannabis people like. That means people like Hezekiah and his organization has to raise more funds and hire more lobbyists than they have now. Cannabis is in mainstream politics all across the country and the pro-Cannabis PAC groups have to work it like all the other special interest lobby groups.
In all the states that have passed adult use rec legal, the original ballot measure provisions have been tweaked and outright changed from their original intent. Legislatures will change future ballot measures everywhere in the states that pass adult use/rec legal. It just means and boils down to more work for the Cannabis PACs.
Why should Sebastopol donate an antenna site that is outside town and makes the neighbors furious. There are other alternatives that KOWS has available without enraging the neighbors. Most radio stations I listen to care about their public image more than blowing wind to their listeners who are mostly the other hobby radio moderators.
Maybe they hope to add some cell towers which are now known to be carcinogenic.
Shepherd, Thanks for posting this!
I agree, let's keep people focused on how 'good' we are!
I don't know what the rest Sebastopol or businesses will think if they find out we're gaining public land, indefinitely, for $1 dollar a year!
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