The San Diego County Sheriff’s Insider has been hired to run the OC’s law enforcement oversight body – Orange County Register

Orange County supervisors unanimously on Tuesday elected an insider sheriff to head the county’s law enforcement agency, replacing a civil rights attorney who left in April.

Robert Paul Faigin, who was selected after a nationwide search to serve as commander of the county’s Office of Independent Review, has been the chief legal counsel for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for 21 years. He is an attorney and former prosecutor in Solano and Lassen counties.

Faigin will earn total annual compensation of $422,739 during his three-year contract.

Former director joined DWP

As a liability consultant for law enforcement agencies, Faigin has a different background than former OIR director Sergio Perez, who left to become an inspector general at the ailing Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy. Perez was formerly an attorney for the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

In Orange County, Perez saw his role as a public watchdog over the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, the Parole Department and the Agency for Social Services.

Supervisor Don Wagner said the board is not trying to go in any other direction with hiring Faigin and expects him to be as “robust” as the last OIR director.

“The intent is to replace Sergio with an equally competent head of this (agency) who will take direction from the board and help us develop best practices,” Wagner said. The task “is not to make politics, to make headlines. It should help us to make the necessary changes.”

Spitzer: “No emergency solution”

District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he envisioned Faigin being less “hostile” to law enforcement than Perez, whom he described as a “snake in the grass.”

The OIR is “not a grand jury, it’s not a gotcha entity, it’s not meant to be adversarial,” Spitzer said. “It’s an advisor to the board of directors, not the public.”

When Perez left, Spitzer was under investigation by the OIR for making racially charged comments while discussing a double homicide case.

“Based on[Faigin’s]resume, he comes from a background working in an agency that understands the issues that I and the sheriff deal with every day,” Spitzer said.

Sheriff Don Barnes said he “looks forward to working with Mr Faigin in his new role as Director of the OIR”.

“The Sheriff’s Department will continue to work together, as we have over the years in our joint mission with the OIR, to provide exceptional public safety and sound policy for Orange County residents,” Barnes said.

Perez declined to respond to Spitzer’s comments, but said, “An effective OIR must be able to speak openly and directly with the public about the issues it uncovers.” I hope Mr. Faigin takes seriously this mission as enshrined in county law.”

The county’s Office of Independent Review has a troubled past, and was once viewed by many as window dressing, an office that served a political purpose but achieved nothing significant. Before Perez was hired, the office was dormant for two years while the district supervisor considered closing it altogether.

Perez took the reins in 2020 and started asking tough questions. Under his oversight, the OIR issued a strong reprimand of sheriff’s rules on the use of force in 2021 for the first time. It was the strongest action by the OIR since its inception in 2008.

role in San Diego

In San Diego County, Faigin was part of an internal critical review panel accused of failing to do his job by the family of a schizophrenic man who died in custody, according to online news site Voice of San Diego.

Paul Silva died in 2018 after being tasered and hit with pepper spray during an altercation with MPs. The five-member board, which included Faigin without voting rights, found no fault in the MPs’ actions.

Silva’s family, who had filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit, said the review panel gave lawmakers permission to kill with impunity, the San Diego Voice said. The lawsuit was settled in 2021 for $3.5 million, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Insider has been hired to run the OC’s law enforcement oversight body – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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