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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of San Diego
Measure B Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Passing

468,051 votes yes (74.6%)

159,365 votes no (25.4%)

CHARTER AMENDMENTS ESTABLISHING COMMISSION ON POLICE PRACTICES. Shall the City Charter be amended to dissolve the Community Review Board on Police Practices and replace it with a Commission on Police Practices, with members appointed by the City Council, its own staff, subpoena power, independent legal counsel, and authority to investigate police officer misconduct, review complaints against officers, and make recommendations on police officer discipline, police policies, and Police Department legal compliance?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by Source: League of Women Voters of San Diego

The Question

Should the current Community Review Board on Police Practices be replaced with the Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct independent investigations with its own staff (not the City Attorney's), and which would have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents related to:

  • the San Diego Police Department's compliance with federal, state, and local laws,
  • complaints made against police officers,
  • accusations of domestic violence by police officers, and
  • deaths resulting from police interactions?

The Situation

Currently, there is a Community Review Board on Police Practices for the City of San Diego, but it does not independently investigate any reported incidents, nor does it have subpoena power or the use of outside experts. For legal questions, this Board refers to the City Attorney.

There is also a Citizen’s Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations, whose purpose is to study, understand and recommend changes to general issues related to the San Diego Police Department.  For legal questions, this Board refers to the City Attorney.  Board members for both groups are appointed by the Mayor plus a majority vote of the City Council.

For three decades, citizens have been urging the City Council to create and then to give the Community Review Board on Police Practices more teeth.  Some progress was made in 2016 but, until now, the City Council has not been willing to place it on the ballot.  The Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 probably is responsible for passage of this ballot measure by the City Council.

The Proposal

Amend the City of San Diego Charter to dissolve the Community Review Board on Police Practices and Establish an Independent Commission on Police Practices.  The Commission members would be appointed by the City Council. 

  • The Commission must independently investigate all officer-involved shootings, all deaths resulting in an interaction with a police officer, and all deaths while a person is in the custody of the San Diego Police Department. 
  • They also must review and evaluate the Police Department’s compliance with federal, state and local reporting laws and requirements; they may review and evaluate the policies, procedures, practices and actions of the Police Department and make recommendations.  They would also be required to receive, register, review, and evaluate all complaints against City police officers.
  • The Commission may, but would not be required to, review, evaluate, and investigate allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, physical assault, or domestic violence by officers.
  • They also may make recommendations to the Police Chief on policies of discipline, but the Police Chief would retain existing authority to determine discipline, if any.
  • The Commission must file semi-annual reports to the Mayor and Council which will be made public. 
  • The Commission may hire outside experts including attorneys and they will have subpoena powers. 
  • Officers may appeal decisions made by the Commission.

Fiscal effect

It is estimated that the necessary staffing and budget for the Commission could reasonably range from seven (7) Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions and $1.2 million annually up to sixteen (16) FTEs and $2.6 million annually.  Current funding for the CRB, at approximately $247,000, would no longer be required, resulting in a net cost of $950,000 to $2.35 million annually. Funding would come from the City’s General Fund.

Supporters say

  1. The Independent Commission on Police Practices will be able to hire outside experts including attorneys.  They will not depend on the City Attorney who also represents the Mayor and San Diego Police Department.  

  2. The Charter amendments will allow for independent experts to investigate claims of police misconduct, and grant the Commission subpoena power to obtain witness testimony and documents, enforceable through contempt proceedings under state law. 

Source: Both ballot arguments are made by Councilmember Monica Montgomery, San Diegans for Justice, Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association and Women Occupy San Diego.

Opponents say

No known formal opposition. The Police Officers Association is remaining neutral on this measure.

No argument against the measure was filed in the Office of the City Clerk.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Summary

San Diego City Attorney's Office / San Diego City Clerk

BALLOT TITLE

Amendments to the San Diego City Charter Relating to Dissolving the Community Review Board on Police Practices and Establishing a Commission on Police Practices.

BALLOT SUMMARY

This measure would amend the San Diego City Charter (Charter) to dissolve the Community Review Board on Police Practices and establish a Commission on Police Practices (Commission), including key elements of the Commission’s structure and responsibilities.

The Charter presently authorizes the Mayor and the City Council (Council) to establish a Community Review Board on Police Practices (CRB) to review and evaluate citizens’ complaints against members of the City’s Police Department and the Police Department’s administration of discipline arising from complaints. The CRB presently must review all deaths occurring while a person is in the Police Department’s custody and all police officer-related shootings. CRB members are appointed by the Mayor with Council confirmation.

This measure would amend the Charter to dissolve the CRB and replace it with a Commission, established as an investigatory body of the City, with members appointed by the Council. The Commission would be staffed by an executive director, who is appointed by the Council; investigators and other City employees or contractors, who are independent of the Police Department and the Mayor; and legal counsel, independent of the City Attorney.

If approved by the voters, the new Commission would be required to independently investigate all deaths occurring while a person is in the Police Department’s custody, all deaths resulting from interaction with a City police officer, and all City police officer-related shootings. The Commission may also investigate allegations against officers of inappropriate sexual conduct, physical assault, and domestic violence. The Charter amendments grant the Commission subpoena power to obtain witness testimony and documents, enforceable through contempt proceedings under state law.

The Commission would also be required to receive, register, review, and evaluate all complaints against City police officers. The Commission may investigate complaints, unless the complainant has requested that a complaint be handled without investigation or where no specific allegation or police officer can be identified. The Commission would be required to review the Police Department’s compliance with reporting laws.

The Commission would have authority to review and advise on Police Department investigations, policies, and imposition of discipline, but the City’s Police Chief retains authority to impose discipline of subordinate officers, as the Charter presently provides.

The Commission would be required to make public reports of its activities.

The Commission must act in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. Police officers may appeal a sustained finding of police misconduct by the Commission to the City’s Civil Service Commission.

The Council authorized placement of this measure on the ballot after receiving the proposal from a community-based organization called “Women Occupy San Diego” and holding multiple public hearings.

This measure requires approval by a majority of the qualified voters of the City of San Diego voting on the measure. If approved, the Charter amendments would become effective after they are chaptered by the California Secretary of State.

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/impartialtitlesummaryfiscalcombined-november2020.pdf#page=7

Background

Source: Text of City of San Diego Ordinance O-21211 / San Diego City Clerk

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

NOTE BY VOTER’S EDGE STAFF: The preamble to the ordinance that placed Measure B on the ballot (Ordinance O-21211) is transcribed here, because it contains official context that voters might find helpful.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WHEREAS, pursuant to California Constitution, article XI, section 3(b) California Elections Code (Elections Code) section 9255(a)(2), and San Diego City Charter (Charter) section 223, the Council of the City of San Diego (Council) has authority to place Charter amendments on the ballot to be considered at a Municipal Election; and

WHEREAS, by San Diego Ordinance O-21214, introduced and adopted on July 7, 2020, the Council has called a Municipal Special Election to be consolidated with the California State General Election to be held November 3, 2020, for the purpose of submitting to the qualified voters of the City one or more ballot measures; and

WHEREAS, on June 21, 2019, Andrea St. Julian, on behalf of Women Occupy San Diego, filed with the Office of the City Clerk of the City of San Diego (City), a proposed amendment to the Charter (Proposal or proposed Charter amendment), related to the dissolution of the existing Community Review Board on Police Practices and the establishment of a Commission on Police Practices; and

WHEREAS, the Proposal was submitted to the City in accordance with Council Policy 000-21 (Oct. 31, 2017), titled “Submission of Ballot Proposals,” for consideration for the November 2020 election; and

WHEREAS, on July 31, 2019, in accordance with Council Policy 000-21, the Council’s Rules Committee considered the Proposal and voted to forward it to the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods (PS & LN) Committee for the second committee review and further policy direction; and

WHEREAS, on September 18, 2019, the PS & LN Committee voted to modify some of the language in the Proposal and to forward it to the City Attorney for legal review and analysis and to draft legally appropriate language, and to return the Proposal to the PS & LN Committee for further consideration; and

WHEREAS, on October 23, 2019 the PS & LN Committee voted to forward the revised Proposal to the Council to determine if the Council wished to authorize the meet-and-confer process related to the proposed Charter amendment, so that it could be considered for the November 2020 ballot after the meet-and-confer process concluded; and

WHEREAS, on November 5, 2019, by San Diego Resolution R-312737, the Council voted to direct the City’s Management Team for labor negotiations to provide written notice to the City’s recognized employee organizations of the Council’s desire to place the Proposal on a future ballot for consideration by City voters; and

WHEREAS, on November 7, 2019, in accordance with the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) and Council Policy 300-06, the City provided notice of the Proposal to the City’s six recognized employee organizations: the Deputy City Attorneys Association (DCAA), IAFF Local 145, Local 127 AFCME, the San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA), the San Diego Police Officers Association (POA), and Teamsters Local 911. Only DCAA, MEA, and POA requested to meet; and

WHEREAS, the City continued discussions with POA on the substance of the proposed Charter amendment, on February 4, 20202, March 3, 2020, and April 29, 2020; and

WHEREAS, on May 21, 2020, the City and [sic] reached agreement, which was approved by the Council on June 23, 2020, by San Diego Resolution R-313121 (June 29, 2020); and

WHEREAS, the Council now wishes to submit to the voters at the November 3, 2020, Municipal Special Election one measure amending the Charter, by amending Article V, by repealing Section 43(d) (“Community Review Board on Police Practices”), by amending Sections 40 (“City Attorney”) and 41 (“Commissions”), and by adding a new Section 41.2 (“Commission on Police Practices”), and by amending Article VIII, by amending Section 115 (“Civil Service Commission”); and

WHEREAS, the proposed Charter Amendment dissolves the Community Review Board on Police Practices and establishes a Commission on Police Practices (Commission), which is an investigatory body of the City to be composed of community members appointed by the City Council, who will have subpoena powers, independent legal counsel, and City staff outside of the Police Department and Mayoral supervision; and

WHEREAS, the proposed Commission must independently investigate all deaths occurring while a person is in the custody of the Police Department; all deaths resulting from interaction with an officer of the Police Department; and all City police officer-related shootings. The Commission has this duty whether or not a complaint has been made against at police officer or the Police Department. These investigations must be conducted by Commission staff or contractors who are independent of the Police Department, and in accordance with the officer’s federal and state law rights; and

WHEREAS, the proposed commission may, but is not required to, investigate complaints against officers of the Police Department, which do not involve in-custody deaths, deaths resulting from an interaction with a police officer, or police officer-related shootings. However, the Commission must not investigate a complaint where the complainant has requested that the complaint be handled without investigation or where no specific allegation or police officer can be identified; and

WHEREAS, the proposed Commission must receive, register, review and evaluate all complaints against officers of the Police Department, except complaints where the complainant has requested that the complaint be handled without investigation or where no specific allegation or police officer can be identified; and

WHEREAS, the proposed Commission may, but is not required to, review, evaluate, and investigate allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, physical assault, or domestic violence by officers of the Police Department, whether or not a written complaint has been submitted to the Commission or the Police Department; and

WHEREAS, the proposed Commission must review and evaluate all factual findings and evidentiary conclusions of the Police Department arising from investigations of police misconduct, and all disciplinary decisions proposed by the Chief of Police or designee following sustained findings of police misconduct, with the terms “police misconduct” and “police officer misconduct,” as used in the section, to be defined by the Council by ordinance; and

WHEREAS, the proposed Commission must review and evaluate the Police Department’s compliance with federal, state, and local reporting laws and requirements, and must prepare and submit semi-annual reports to the Mayor and Council regarding the exercise of the Commission’s duties and powers. These reports must be public, but must not disclose any information required to be kept confidential by controlling federal or state law; and

WHEREAS, the Council’s proposal of a Charter amendment is governed by California Constitution, article XI, section 3(b), Elections Code section 9255(a)(2), and California Government Code section 34458, and is not subject to veto by the Mayor;

WHEREAS, NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT ORDAINED, by the Council of the City of San Diego, that:

Section 1. One measure amending the City Charter by amending Article V, by repealing Section 43(d), by amending Sections 40 and 41, and by adding a new Section 41.2, and by amending Article VIII, by amending Section 115, all related to dissolution of the Community Review Board on Police Practices and establishment of a Commission on Police Practices, is hereby submitted to the qualified voters at the Municipal Special Election to be held on November 3, 2020, and consolidated with the California State General Election to be held on the same date, with the measure to read as follows:  [END PREAMBLE]

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/ordinanceexaminationperiod.pdf#page=46

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Source: San Diego City Attorney's Office / San Diego City Clerk

CITY ATTORNEY’S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS

This measure amends the San Diego City Charter (Charter) to change civilian oversight of the City Police Department (Department) and its officers.

Under existing law, the Mayor and City Council (Council) have established the Community Review Board on Police Practices (CRB), which reviews and evaluates citizens’ complaints against City police officers and the Department’s administration of discipline arising from complaints. The CRB may independently refer an investigation to the grand jury, district attorney, or any other governmental agency authorized by law to investigate the activities of a law enforcement agency. The CRB is also required to review all deaths occurring while a person is in City police custody and all police officer-related shootings, but the CRB does not independently investigate these incidents.

If approved by voters, this measure would dissolve the CRB and replace it with a Commission on Police Practices (Commission). The Commission would serve as an investigatory body of the City, operating independent of the Police Department and Mayor. Commission staff would include an executive director, appointed by the Council, to serve at the direction and will of the Commission. The Commission must retain its own legal counsel, independent of the City Attorney. Commission staff must be employed in accordance with the City’s civil service rules and annual salary ordinance, and must follow City rules related to contracts and records retention, confidentiality, and disclosure.

The Commission would have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, enforceable through contempt proceedings under state law, and would retain the authority to refer cases to outside law enforcement agencies.

The Commission would initially be composed of members of the CRB. The Council would formally appoint Commission members after establishing, by ordinance, the number, term length, qualifications, and method for appointments, and defining the circumstances and process under which Commission members may be removed for cause.

The Commission would be required to investigate all deaths occurring while a person is in Department custody, all deaths resulting from interaction with a City police officer, and all City officer-related shootings. Investigations must be conducted in accordance with rights afforded to police officers under federal and state law.

The Commission must also receive and review all complaints against City police officers except in specified circumstances.

The Commission would have the authority to investigate complaints against officers but must first consider specified factors. Also, the Commission may, but would not be required to, review, evaluate, and investigate allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, physical assault, or domestic violence by officers.

The Commission may make recommendations to the Police Chief on policies and discipline, but the Police Chief would retain existing authority under the Charter, including the authority to determine discipline of subordinate officers.

The Commission also must review and evaluate the Police Department’s compliance with reporting laws and make public semi-annual reports regarding the Commission’s exercise of its duties and powers.

The measure also authorizes the City’s Civil Service Commission to determine appeals by City police officers, following any sustained findings of police officer misconduct by the Commission.

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/impartialtitlesummaryfiscalcombined-november2020.pdf#page=9

Financial effect

Source: City of San Diego Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) / San Diego City Clerk

FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR CITY MEASURE ON NOVEMBER 3, 2020 BALLOT

MEASURE [B]: CHARTER AMENDMENTS ESTABLISHING COMMISSION ON POLICE PRACTICES

This measure would dissolve the Community Review Board on Police Practices (CRB) and, in its place, would establish an independent Commission on Police Practices (Commission). The Commission constituting an investigatory body of the City, would be comprised of community members appointed by the City Council, with subpoena powers, independent legal counsel, and City staff outside of San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and Mayoral supervision.

If approved, the Commission will have certain duties that are required and others that are discretionary. The Commission will be required to independently investigate: (1) all deaths occurring while a person is in the custody of SDPD;(2) all deaths resulting from interaction with an SDPD officer; and (3) all police officer-involved shootings. Based on data provided by SDPD for the historical number of SDPD officer-related deaths and shooting events over the last ten years, this requirement could comprise up to fifteen investigations per year.

Additionally, the Commission must receive, register, review and evaluate all citizen complaints, except those where the complainant does not request an investigation or where no specific allegation or SDPD officer is identified. At the Commission's discretion, it will have the authority to independently investigate any or all of the complaints that it is required to receive, register, review, and evaluate. According to data provided by SDPD, over the last ten years, on average 126 complaints have been received per year that would have been eligible for the Commission to investigate; it is unknown how many complaints the Commission may choose to investigate.

Other duties include the requirement to evaluate of SDPD compliance with federal, state, and local reporting laws and requirements and the submission of semi-annual reports to the Mayor and City Council regarding the exercise of the Commission's duties and powers. The Commission may also review, evaluate and make recommendations on any policies, procedures, practices, and actions of SDPD.

In addition to what is described above, the Commission has other duties and powers included in the ballot proposal, which may be further specified by City Council Ordinance, should this measure be approved by voters.

If approved, a sufficient and appropriate budget for the Commission is expected to be funded from the City's General Fund in an amount to be approved annually by the City Council. it is estimated that the necessary staffing and budget for the Commission could reasonably range between at least seven (7) Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions and $1.2 million annually and up to sixteen (16) FTEs and $2.6 million annually in order to allow it to effectively carry out its duties and powers proposed under the ballot measure. The range is primarily due to the Commission's discretionary authority to determine the level of citizen complaints it chooses to investigate. Current annual funding from the General Fund for the CRB, budgeted at approximately $247,000 for Fiscal Year 2021, would no longer be required. Potential fiscal impacts to the SDPD budget, if any, are unknown.

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/impartialtitlesummaryfiscalcombined-november2020.pdf

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

The City of San Diego does not have an independent process for investigating complaints regarding police misconduct (such as in-custody deaths, shootings, excessive force, and perjury). This has contributed to trust in local policing reaching an all-time low. Measure B will fix this issue by creating an independent, community-led Commission on Police Practices.

The Commission on Police Practices will create a trustworthy process for holding officers accountable that is fair and balanced. This Commission will:

  • Be independent from City politics;
  • Have an independent attorney who doesn't also represent the Mayor and the San Diego Police Department;
  • Be run by community members, and;
  • Have independent professionals who will investigate claims of police misconduct, including complaints of domestic violence and sexual assault by law enforcement.

As professionals, police officers should be subject to independent oversight and accountability, as doctors, lawyers, dentists, and other professionals are held to this standard. The independent oversight brought by the new Commission will strengthen community trust and has the potential to reduce the millions of dollars each year that the City of San Diego pays for lawsuits from police misconduct.

www.sandiegansforjustice.com

VOTE YES ON MEASURE B

/signed/

MONICA MONTGOMERY
Councilmember
San Diego City Council, District 4

MARESA TALBERT
Co-Chair
San Diegans for Justice

ANDREA ST. JULIAN
Board President
Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association

KATE YAVENDITTI
Women Occupy San Diego

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/ballotmeasureargumentsnovember2020.pdf#page=4

— Source: San Diego City Clerk's Office

Arguments AGAINST

No argument against the measure was filed in the Office of the City Clerk.

— Source: San Diego City Clerk's Office

More information

Videos (1)

— October 4, 2020 League of Women Voters of San Diego
Ballot measures can sometimes feel like trick questions. We at the League of Women Voters are dedicated to providing non-partisan "prop talks" to help break down each measure. We will present the pros and cons of how these policies will impact your day to day life.

Additional Info

Entities Remaining Neutral or Taking No Position

(Explanation for the absence of major entities from the lists of Yes or No endorsements)

The San Diego Police Officers Association has said it will remain neutral on this measure.
As quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“We just want to make sure it got to the voters so they can decide what kind of oversight they want,” said Jack Schaeffer, president of the police union. “There are different forms of oversight, and this is one of them, and if the citizens of San Diego want this form, that will be our oversight.”
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/story/2020-08-15/backers-of-police-reform-launch-campaign-for-san-diego-oversight-ballot-measure

The Republican Party of San Diego County is taking no position on this measure.
http://www.sandiegorepublicans.org/endorsements.html

Contact Info

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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure B

Organizations (4)

Elected & Appointed Officials (2)

No on Measure B
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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