The city might lay off Patrick Hunter.
He helps organize 23 volunteers who perform a citizen-oversight role of San Diego Police. The group gets access to confidential police complaints and internal investigations and checks whether the department violated its policies.
Most of the group’s activities happen behind closed doors as required by law, which means the public does not see Hunter perform his duties like other city committee leaders.
“I’m an office of one,” Hunter said.
Hunter declined to say much about the mayor’s proposal to eliminate his job as executive director of the Citizens’ Review Board, calling the situation sensitive. He said the proposal is nothing personal and acknowledged the city’s budget problems.
“At the same time … there’s a belief for effective and civilian oversight of law enforcement,” Hunter said.
Some of the volunteers who work with Hunter supported his position at budget meetings last week and more are expected to attend tonight’s public forum at the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center, 404 Euclid Ave. The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement also sent a letter to city officials last week, requesting they safeguard Hunter’s job.
“Any recommendation that could serve to weaken the existing structure of oversight, such as the one at issue, could negatively impact community trust and confidence in the police department,” the association’s letter said. “Absent the appropriate staff, the (board) runs a significant risk of losing its ability to provide timely and effective oversight of the San Diego Police Department.”
Laying off Hunter would save the city about $35,000 through the remainder of the current fiscal year and $104,000 in the next. Those estimates include his total salary and benefits.
If Hunter’s position is eliminated, the Citizens’ Review Panel would continue its meetings under the Human Resources Department. The executive director of the Human Relations Commission would become the panel’s new leader and spokesperson.
Correction: The original version of this story contained the incorrect first name of Hunter. It also incorrectly referred to the Human Relations Commission as the Human Resources Commission. We regret the errors.
— KEEGAN KYLE