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Community Police Oversight Commission Grapples With Charter Amendment Setback and Next Steps

Commission looks at ways to continue the conversation on possible charter amendments that would expand the Commission's authority

Published on Monday, June 10, 2024 | 4:00 am

The Pasadena Community Police Oversight Commission (CPOC) is looking at ways to continue the conversation on possible charter amendments that would expand the Commission’s authority.

The City Council decided not to proceed with the Commission’s proposed charter amendments at its May 13 meeting.

Principal Administrative Analyst Amanda Fowler said while the City Council did not recommend further movement with the proposed charter amendment, there was Commission discussion about continuing the conversation and conducting further research.

At Thursday’s CPOC meeting, Commissioners discussed the need to continue discussions and consider establishing an ad hoc committee to recommend the next steps.

The CPOC recommended amendments to the Charter that would enhance the authority of the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) by allowing the IPA to give recommendations and actively weigh in during personnel investigations, instead of upon completing investigations.

According to the CPOC, the amendment would also create more accountability and transparency in the complaint handling process of the Police Department, with a dedicated staff person to serve in this capacity on behalf of the Commission.

The City Council request that the Commission discuss and propose possible charter amendments related to police oversight matters.

“What I took from it was to go back, complete my assessment, get it to the public, get it to Council, and then we can have continuing conversations and see where they go,” IPA Richard Rosenthal said, referring to the May 13 City Council meeting.

Commissioner Juliana Serrano said the Council’s decision not to proceed with the proposed charter amendment of CPOC is very frustrating.

She further remarked that the City Council is not supportive of the Commission.

“I think it just fell very flat with the Council and there could be any number of reasons for that. But I think part of it is still the fact that we have a Council that is not as supportive as it should be about the work that I think that we’re doing here in oversight.

“In that falling flat, it meant nothing is, I think, going to happen for the November 2024 ballot.”

In order for the amendment to be placed on the November ballot a meet and confer meeting would have to take place with the police department. The City Council does not control the timing of that meeting. 

Serrano said CPOC should prepare for a game plan as it relates to the charter amendment.

“We do have a conversation about what’s the game plan, and I don’t know if that looks like a new ad hoc committee that will form in the course of the new year for us, but what are our next steps? Because we did go through a deliberation through some education and then a deliberation.”

“There’s probably more that we can do and more we can consider and learn and incorporate into what might be another call for a charter amendment down the road.”

Serrano said it is important for CPOC to ensure that the community will receive what it needs in terms of Police Department oversight.

“It’s an important thing for us to, as a body, ensure that it wasn’t just a moment and that it’s not just left at what happened at that May 13th meeting, which was very disappointing,” she added.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Raúl Ibáñez said he felt disrespected on Rosenthal and CPOC’s behalf.

“I felt a little disrespected on your behalf in terms of how the Council took your presentation and the amount of months that you and this body underwent and bringing everything to the table that we did.”

“And I felt like standing up and sticking up for you at one point because it felt disrespectful even from my end. And that’s because I know how well you do your job and how thorough we have been working with this issue.”

In response, Rosenthal said he did not feel disrespected by the City Council. “I felt that it had an opportunity to be heard,” he said.

Rosenthal said by not having the proposed charter amendment go forward by November, the CPOC will have additional time to talk, to confer with the union, and decide how oversight should look like and how CPOC will best serve the city.

“Again, as I said, this is just the beginning of the conversation. It’s not the end,” said Rosenthal.

The CPOC did not take an action on the matter.

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