Item 35 at the Sacramento Board of Supervisors meeting on February 9 was set to address the creation of an oversight board for our great sheriff, Scott Jones.
It was commendable that Supervisor Kennedy at least recognized that something needed to be put in place to address the community's outrage concerning the lack of accountability and transparency over the Sheriff. AB 1185, the legislation that authorizes the County to create a board that oversees the Sheriff’s department, was signed into law September 30, 2020 even though it had been introduced in the legislature in 2019. It is not clear why this very relevant legislation was not a part of Supervisor Kennedy's research and considered as a part of his proposal.
In fact, he stated that the Board of Supervisors had no authority to create a Sheriff Oversight Board.
Surely, all of the Board of Supervisors know the author of AB 1185. After all, he just might represent some of them.
As such, during the initial discussions, as a black person somewhat knowledgeable about what's going on in criminal justice reform, I felt some kind of way...like the Supervisors live in a different world, and like they are oblivious to the pain that many in the impacted community feel from the systemic racial injustice of the criminal justice system, and specifically that of the Sacramento County Sheriff, and many other Sheriff's in California. I'd like to know the names of those "multiple organizations and interested parties that had input in putting together the proposed framework for a Community Review Commission.” Some of us have been advocating for AB 1185 for about two years.
BUT BACK TO THE MEETING
It appears that public comments, both verbally, and in writing, matter!
Supervisors Nottoli and Serna spoke in favor of considering AB 1185.
Although Rich Desmond was supportive of AB 1185 during his campaign to be elected, he is obviously opposed to it as evidenced by his suggestion that the lobbyists for the Deputy Sheriff's Association and their representatives be permitted on the Commission.
As expected, Sue Frost made sure that she made a show of voicing her support for law enforcement.
Neither the Sheriff's Office nor the Office of Inspector General, whom the public has not heard from, even with all of the officer-involved shootings within the Sheriff's Department, made comments.
Clearly, change is needed within the current Office of Inspector General
The community doesn't want a do-nothing Office of Inspector General. What would be the purpose? Ultimately, it was a respectable win to have Supervisor Serna and Kennedy work together in revising the framework to consider AB 1185, and the creation of the Sheriff Oversight Board with subpoena powers.
In the meantime, let's support SB 271. It will allow outsiders who are not in the insular law enforcement fraternity to seek reform and qualify for election as Sheriff.
SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SOCIAL JUSTICE?
The most significant reason this is important for social justice is that it provides the chance to save lives. It provides the chance to curtail the murder of unarmed African Americans and people with behavioral health issues.
“It is important because the $41 million in payout for legal claims involving the Sheriff can provide a lot of housing, job opportunities and funding for small businesses in economically depressed neighborhoods.”
This oversight is needed to save taxpayer dollars! This is important to social justice because of the racial disparities in criminalization, arrests, incarceration, and lack of rehabilitation opportunities, under AB 109—the California Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, and specifically because of the lack of accountability with other County law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Probation. Sacramento County has always had direct authority over non-Sheriff Department-county law enforcement agencies.
CALL TO ACTION
It is necessary that the community reaches out to their BOS representative to ask them to support a framework for a Sheriff Oversight Board with subpoena power. Community organizations must be united and active in providing input to this BOS Subcommittee in developing the framework for establishment of a Sheriff Oversight Board based upon AB 1185.
“Otherwise, we have to be prepared for a vicious and expensive fight with law enforcement to place this issue on the ballot for a charter amendment.”