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

The city of San Diego’s Commission on Police Practices is down to only eight active members, less than a third of the 25 members it’s supposed to have.

Not only has this created more work for commissioners, all of whom are citizen volunteers, but it has meant that the commission can’t move forward with implementing Measure B. The November 2020 ballot measure promised voters an independent police oversight board with a professional staff and the authority to investigate incidents involving police use-of-force and certain misconduct complaints, recommend policy overhauls and ensure that the San Diego Police Department is complying with all local, state and federal data-reporting requirements.

In the nearly two and a half years since Measure B became law, the commission, formerly known as the Citizens Review Board, has seen its membership dwindle and workload increase, said Doug Case, the commission’s acting chair.

Case said that the commission has a “significant backlog of cases” — more than 100 — due to several months during the Covid-19 pandemic when commissioners weren’t able to review cases remotely until the San Diego Police Department worked out a system.

“Add to that a significant increase in the number of cases that followed the public attention to the George Floyd case … and our declining numbers resulted in the growing backlog,” he said.

As a result, the commission no longer reviews less-serious complaints and instead has prioritized Category I complaints, like officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and excessive use of force, and paused reviews of less-serious Category II complaints.

“We’ve done everything that we can do in terms of streamlining our processes and prioritizing cases,” he said. “We really need to get new commissioners appointed.”

File photo of Andrea St. Julian / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Andrea St. Julian, an attorney and co-chair of San Diegans for Justice, who wrote Measure B, blamed the City Council for not making the commission a priority.

“Every time I think we’re getting ready to move, the City Council slows the process down,” she said.

“I am stunned by the fact that not only do we not have commissioners but we don’t have a fully functioning commission,” she added.

The commission’s latest struggles follow nearly two years of challenges, ranging from delays in drafting the ordinance that would guide the commission into existence to concerns over language in the ordinance to disagreements with the San Diego Police Officers Association over specific provisions in the ordinance.

The City Council could not fill vacancies on the commission until the ordinance was adopted, which happened last November. In early December, the city opened the application process for new commissioners, garnering 60 applicants for the 25 seats, all of which must be filled at the same time, Case said.

The application period closed Feb. 15.

On Wednesday afternoon, City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera announced that on May 22, the council will consider appointments to the commission. He described implementation of Measure B as “a massive citywide effort requiring collaboration and coordination between each branch of city government, city employees, employee unions, and the public.”

The Commission on Police Practices must be composed of people who represent various racial and ethnic groups, socio-economic backgrounds, ages, gender identities and sexual orientations and also have experience — either professional or lived — that could help lend perspective on issues that overlap with law enforcement, like homelessness, substance abuse or mental illness, based on the ordinance that created it. 

Of the 25 seats, the commission must include one person from each of the nine City Council districts, two youth members (ages 18 to 24), five members from low- to moderate-income census tracks and nine “at large” members.

Case said that after the new commissioners are selected, they will need to be trained, a process that will require about 30 hours.

The commission will then face multiple important tasks, like drafting its operating procedures — which will need City Council approval — and hiring a permanent executive director, a paid, fulltime position.

Join the Conversation


  1. The only cops I ever see in SD are off duty. The only reason I know they’re cops is because obviously they’re required to have mustaches or they wouldn’t do that to themselves.

  2. Something about the potential cadre of selected individuals tells me that the committee would slant liberal, pronouns a must, hair color multi-dyed, and most looking for trouble with cops. I say disband. Problem solved.

  3. The POA considers the “community” all “activists that hate the police”.
    That’s a sad comment by the new SD POA President and needs to be looked into. What an impossible way to attempt to work together for everyone’s safety.

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