Santa Ana gives the final okay to a Civil Police Oversight Commission – Orange County Register

Santa Ana residents with complaints involving local police officers will soon have a new resource to turn to.

The Santa Ana City Council on Tuesday, November 15, gave its final approval to create a Police Oversight Commission.

The commission, according to a new regulation, “will support democratic governance and lead to an even more professional, well-run, accountable and high-functioning police agency.”

Council members will appoint seven members to the commission, which will act through a new independent oversight director and begin work next year, Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said Wednesday.

The commissioners can receive and investigate complaints and lawsuits alleging police misconduct, including shootings involving officers, “unreasonable or excessive force”, prejudice or discrimination, sexual assault and other matters.

The commissioners cannot independently investigate the complaints. This will be the role of a newly hired director of oversight, who will have the power to subpoena witnesses, take oaths and “compel the production of evidence” during an investigation.

The commission’s findings and recommendations are relayed to the city manager and the police chief, who have 60 days — unless the commission grants more time — to submit a response. And if the commissioners aren’t satisfied with that answer, they can make their own recommendations to the Santa Ana City Council.

Neither the Commission nor the Director have the authority to discipline police officers.

In addition, the commission will review and evaluate the department’s policies, practices and procedures, and make recommendations to the police chief and city council.

“Santa Ana residents and the City Council desire a well-resourced and effective Police Oversight Commission to enhance law enforcement operations and maintain community trust,” reads the ordinance passed by the council.

Sarmiento, the outgoing mayor who is in a close race for a seat on Orange County’s board of directors, said he is grateful to those who “have worked tirelessly to bring this about, particularly the community-based organizations dedicated to accountability, transparency and adoption.” essential role of public scrutiny of local police practices and policies.”

Hairo Cortes, head of a community Latino advocacy organization called CHISPA, said, “We know there is still a long way to go, but the city has taken a very important step.”

“And they did it while being inclusive and responsive to the community.” Santa Ana gives the final okay to a Civil Police Oversight Commission – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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