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San Diego City Council moves forward in approval process for police oversight commission

Some activists say they were disappointed when city council chose not to include amendments they believe could create more transparency.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego City Council is moving forward with its approval process for the police oversight commission but some activists fear not much will change in policing.

Community activists wanted some changes made to the ordinance that they say would hold police more accountable. 

But on Monday, the city council moved forward with its approval process without making the adjustments they asked for.

Seventy-five percent of voters approved Measure B in 2020, allowing for the creation of the Commission for Police Practices. San Diego City council is now in the process of approving an ordinance under Measure B. 

San Diegans for Justice say they were disappointed when city council chose not to include amendments that could create more transparency.

“The commission has historically had a very difficult time getting all the documents that it needs to make an adequate analysis of an event. We think that allowing the police chief to just withhold any document that he sees fit based on his own opinion, is going to continue that problem rather than correct it,” said Andrea St. Julian, an Attorney and co-Chair of San Diegans for Justice. 

St. Julian also says they wanted an amendment that would allow more community input when deciding who serves on the Commission.

“This is a community-led commission. The community should have some formal role in deciding who’s going to be on the commission,” said St. Julian. 

But Council President pro Tem, Monica Montgomery Steppe says community members can nominate people for the commission but the city’s charter stipulates who serves.

“So, obviously community input in this process is very, very important to us. But this is consistent with the charter language that we all agreed on," said Montgomery Steppe. "It is a part of the council delegation of power to choose who serves on these boards and commissions,” 

Twenty-five people including nine community members at large, will have a seat on the commission. The Chief will also have additional deadlines to respond to commission requests. 

As for the police chief’s power to withhold records, Montgomery Steppe says city council has to follow rules already in place.

“It’s San Diego City Charter Section 57 that gives the Chief authority over all records. So, when we crafted this, we had to make provisions for that, which was already established in law," Montgomery Steppe.

Over the next few months, the San Diego Police union will have a chance to weigh in on the ordinance too and then the council will hold a final vote for approval. 

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