Breonna Taylor San Diego
San Diego Police officers guard the San Diego Police Department headquarters in downtown as protesters gather on Sept. 23, 2020. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

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City labor negotiators and the union representing San Diego police officers are at an impasse in negotiations over who can and can’t serve on the Commission on Police Practices, the independent board that investigates allegations of police misconduct.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the San Diego Police Officers Association argued family members of current or former local law enforcement officers should be able to serve on the board, while city labor negotiators say they shouldn’t. They also split on whether individuals with a felony record can be appointed to the commission – police union representatives say no, and city negotiators say anyone whose criminal record doesn’t bar them from serving on a jury should be eligible.

SDPD Sgt. Jared Wilson, the POA president, said the CPP — which is yet to be fully implemented, in part because of the stalled negotiations — was one of the reasons officers were leaving San Diego for jobs in other cities. He said the commission had a “radical, abolish the police agenda” and that “our cops are better off somewhere else.”

The city’s lead labor negotiator, Tim Davis, said the CPP ordinance was “very carefully crafted and balanced.” He asked the City Council to approve a resolution resolving the impasse, which would allow the ordinance to move forward for an implementation vote at a later date.

Andrea St. Julian, an attorney and co-chair of San Diegans for Justice, who authored the ballot measure that created the CPP, said she has family members in law enforcement whom she consulted when working on the measure.

“There is nothing about me or my background that makes me anti-police,” she said.

Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, whose office oversaw the drafting of the CPP ordinance, said guidance on the makeup of the commission came from the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement—the leading authority on citizen oversight—“and not from anti-police sentiment.”

Councilman Chris Cate was the lone vote against moving the ordinance forward. He said his father is a retired law enforcement officer.

“Being told that I can’t serve on a commission because there might be a perceived conflict of interest… I take that a little personally,” he said.

Councilmembers said they were sympathetic to the POA’s position but were also concerned that allowing a law enforcement presence on the board would erode the trust of communities who’ve pushed for stronger oversight.

Kelly Davis

Kelly Davis is a freelance journalist focusing on criminal justice and social issues. Follow her on Twitter @kellylynndavis...

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16 Comments

  1. I think it’s ridiculous that police are so against oversight and would quit over the idea that they might be held accountable for misconduct. If the response to accountability is to quit, then they are proving why people say “defund the police”. You can’t have a free and fair society where police are allowed to abuse people with impunity and cover each other’s backs when it comes to abuse. Simply don’t abuse people and you won’t have to worry about the oversight committee. It’s extremely telling that officers are against this.

  2. The quitters of SDPD are showing us their true colors. They aren not committed to serving the public good. They are committed to covering their butts against their bad behavior. Like we tell our little children, if you haven’t done anything bad, then there’s nothing to worry about.
    I can’t wait until this batch of toxic police go elsewhere. Then

    1. I’ll not be an extremist with an ACAB agenda but this is a terrible look for the SDPD. One week on a business trip and to hear that the PD is kicking up a fuss because family members can’t run the oversight committee is ridiculous. Everyone who quit, good riddance. A bad apple spoils the bunch.

      The SDPD should welcome a chance to prove that they are beyond reproach, not… whatever this is.

  3. Apologies.
    Continuing:. Then maybe the Brady List will clear and we can get more reliable officers working the job.

  4. It’s a shame that Internal Affairs was so inept or biased to the point that San Diego would need a CoPP.

  5. “Cops are better off somewhere else.”

    I’m totally ok with that.

    The current ones are absolutely worthless, unless of course you need to strike down a protest with POC using military gear.

  6. Oh, boo hoo. Crying because they can’t be abusive and power-hungry control freaks anymore. Bunch of snowflakes.

  7. Oversight committee getting rid of trash before it even exists. That’s efficency.

  8. Oh please – Jared Wilson doesn’t speak for us. He’s got half of his paying members of the POA blocked from accessing the social media. We aren’t leaving bc of the oversight board and you know it.

  9. You know what would help? To hear from actual police officers rather than ‘official’ talking heads. Can you work on cultivating some real polices sources, VOSD? What are street cops saying about why they’re leaving, and are they really ‘afraid’ of this oversight committee?

  10. Jared Wilson’s argument is specious. The City Auditor (on the same day) just reported that 40% of officers do not turn their body cameras on. What are they trying to hide?

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