Citizen’s Review Board on Police Practices under fire

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A grand jury report blasted the city's Citizens'
Review Board on Police Practices for being weak and under the sway of Internal
Affairs officers, but the head of the panel shot back Wednesday, saying he was
working to correct the deficiencies.

The grand jury report said the volunteer panel, created in the late
1980s to take complaints against officers, operated in an atmosphere of
prejudice, fear and intimidation.

“The SDPD complaint process works, and citizens should continue to use
it,” said Jim Kaese, the acting head of the panel.

Kaese said the CRB, which has 23 members, was continually seeking to
improve itself, and that no one on the board was contacted by the grand jury.

The grand jury report, made public yesterday, said the CRB has allowed
police with the Internal Affairs Division to attend the board's closed session
meetings for several years, contributing to the atmosphere of fear and
intimidation. In closed-door meeting, members debate and decide issues before
them.

Internal Affairs officers argue, lecture and sometimes bully CRB members
into changing their minds, according to the report. Internal Affairs officers
also told CRB members that they did not want any dissenting votes passed on to
the mayor or chief of police, according to the grand jury.

Prospective members of the CRB are recommended by current members but
must be appointed by the mayor.

Kaese, a former trial lawyer, said the CRB continues to work on its
bylaws, case review, meeting decorum, enhancing diversity, as well as other
issues. He said the CRB welcomed legitimate criticism and logical solutions
from all sources, including the grand jury.

Kaese said the grand jury's investigation was “severely limited in
scope and relies heavily upon accusatory conclusions not based in fact.”

The use of terms such as “cronyism” and “prejudice” are significant
accusations that deserve specific explanations and factual support, something
the grand jury report did not provide, Kaese said.

The grand jury recommended the mayor appoint a three-member team,
independent of the CRB, to investigate and evaluate the leadership to determine
if changes are needed.

Grand jurors also recommended the mayor establish an interview
committee, independent of the CRB, for the selection of board members and to
reduce from eight to four the number of consecutive years a board member can
serve.

Despite the disagreements, Kaese said, the CRB will review the grand
jury findings and work with the mayor's office to determine if any of the
recommendations represent practical, legal and beneficial solutions to issues
facing the board.

Categories: KUSI