SAN DIEGO — Members of San Diegans for Justice gathered on Thursday to reveal the results of a study that was performed to “strengthen accountability and transparency” in local law enforcement agencies.
The group says the recent state audit report regarding deaths in San Diego County jails showed patterns of racial and socioeconomic bias at the San Diego Sheriff's Department. They are calling for stronger oversight of county law enforcement because of the findings.
State auditors conducted their review of the Sheriff's Department from July 2021 to December 2021 to find out why inmates in San Diego are more likely to die than those in other county jails. The report says the departments failure to consistently provide adequate medical and mental health care likely contributed to its high number of in-custody deaths. It also mentions detention staff performed insufficient safety checks, and it did not always provide prompt lifesaving measures to unresponsive individuals.
San Diegans for Justice says the analysis for their study, done by civilian oversight expert, Dr. Sharon R. Fairley gives recommendations for key changes the Board of Supervisors can make to protect our communities and increase transparency and accountability.
The group says currently the Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board doesn’t have enough jurisdiction to conduct a thorough investigation. Interviewing Medical staff is not included in their power to investigate. Some of the other recommendations included:
- Expand the scope of CLERB’s jurisdiction
- Improve the independence and timeliness of CLERB’s investigative process
- Enforce CLERB’s subpoena power and the County’s duty to cooperate
- Increase CLERB’s resources to fund more investigative human capital
- Enhance the transparency of CLERB’s Board Member selection process and enhance community representation
- Ensure CLERB’s case review process reflects a rigorous review of the key reports and evidence
- Increase transparency about CLERB’s work
The study is a 96 page document of reviews and recommendations which SD for Justice says is a key step for reform and increasing trust from the community.