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Community Review Commission - update on Sheriff oversight

On 9/20/22 a meeting of the Sacramento County's Community Review Commission (site linked here) took place - a reminder of what the Community Review Commission (CRC) does can be found in the image below. Essentially it exists to provide oversight of the Sacramento Sheriff's Office (SSO).

The first item of interest (item 2) was a general introduction to Sac County's recently appointed Inspector General. We have previously written about this position being filled in this blog post.

Image below pulled from this KCRA article

Basic background:

She hails from Contra Costa County where she worked as a Deputy Sheriff, and she has been working for the City of Sacramento since 2006. When she started at the City she worked first as the Deputy Director of Office of Public Safety Accountability, and was then appointed Director in 2008. She provided assistance in the creation of the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, which makes policy recommendations to the City Council regarding the Police Department in order to ensure that they are accountable to the community (hypothetically at least, so far they been almost completed ignored).

Why is this important?

Her instatement is a step in the right direction, but it also brings the County into compliance with AB 1185, which authorizes a county to establish a sheriff oversight board to assist the board of supervisors and to establish an office of the inspector general. AB 1185 also gives the oversight entities to have subpoena power. Hopefully Francine's instatement will do some good...we'll see.

Next up, Item 3: a report from the SSO

The Sheriff's report was given by Undersheriff Barnes. He reported that the community outreach units have been interacting in non-policing ways with the community in order to build relationships. Obviously that's quite a bold claim, and the language he went on to use demonstrated the problematic ways in which the SSO views certain community members.

For example, he defined an "at-risk teenager" as:

a teenager with too much time on his hands

When we analyze that statement as community members we can see that it would be hard for a patrol officer to see how much time a teenager has on their hands just by looking at them (not to mention that the idea of extra time being indicative of someone "at risk" is totally ridiculous). So, this definition could lead patrol officers to make an inordinate amount of Terry stops (AKA stop and frisks), or stops similar to the Terry Stop, whenever patrol officers see a teenager apparently at rest or at leisure. Again, a teenager at rest or at leisure is not necessarily a danger to the community.

Barnes also talked a big game about how the SSO is trying to divert cases of mental health crises away from the jail. As we saw with the murder of Jaime Naranjo by a Deputy Sheriff on 9/28/22 (KCRA article here) during a mental health crisis, the SSO is very VERY far away from even beginning to treat community members struggling with mental illness in an ethical way.

Finally, Item 4

According to the agenda doc, the purpose of this item was to:

Receive suggestions from community members on topics for the Community Review Commission to consider analyzing and evaluating as part of its work for 2022-23 year. Suggestions will be received through brief presentations from three community groups (Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Decarcerate Sacramento, and Downtown Sacramento Partnership) as well as public comment.

Additionally, a preliminary list of topics for the CRC to consider compiled from CRC members since its founding as well from public comment at CRC meetings was attached to the meeting docs (as seen in image below).

Some comments and questions of note from the meeting are listed below:

  • The ACLU asked for budget transparency and reported noticing some conflicting information about budget distribution; they also asked for more information on the reports of Lexipol (the company hired by SSO to complete data tracking) who have issued reports in direct conflict of current law.

  • Downtown Partnership expressed concern about their organization struggling, and said that the downtown jail is part of that “ecosystem”. They are concerned with organizational capacity, and also stated that the timing of releasing people from jail should be coordinated with community organizations order to them link to services. They also stated the need to embed case management within jails so that individuals are handed off to a support system, whether it be family or community-based.

  • Decarcerate Sacramento asked for more accountability for the treatment of incarcerated people in jail, and for reports on the Mays Consent Decree by outside experts that can outline what needs to be improved. Two callers from Decarcerate Sacramento pointed out the disconnect between mental health needs and the operations of the jail, including the frequent placement of LGBTQ+ folx in solitary confinement.

  • The public gave heart-wrenching stories about involvement with the SSO, and asked for case management services, accountability, a continuum of care, adequate COVID-19 procedures, and reduction of the jail population.

This item was was only to receive comments, stay tuned for what happens next!

Say his name.

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