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Police Oversight Commissioners Propose Police Monitor With Expanded Role

Published on Friday, February 9, 2024 | 5:58 am

The Community Police Oversight Commission (CPOC) on Thursday night approved a recommendation to the City Council supporting changes to the City Charter intended to enhance police oversight.

The recommendations support transforming the role of the current Independent Police Auditor (IPA) into a more powerful Independent Police Monitor (IPM).

The proposal commissioners approved specifically directed City staff and current Independent Police Auditor Richard Rosenthal to create language that would strengthen the IPA role by conforming it with Independent Police Monitor responsibilities that include critical incident response and complaint process enhancements.

All commissioners voted in favor of the proposal except for Commissioner Donald Matthews.

“I think the current model that we have, I am satisfied with right now,” said Matthews. “Right now I’ll be opposed to any charter change.”

At recent meetings, the commissioners considered whether to recommend an amendment to the City Charter to allow the switch from an auditor-focused model of police oversight to a monitor-focused model or recommend any other potential enhancements to the current police oversight model.

IPA Rosenthal earlier recommended to the commission changing the auditor-focused model of oversight to a monitor-focused model.

Under the current auditor-focused form of oversight of CPOC, the IPA has unimpeded access to all police department personnel complaints and investigations. However, the IPA cannot directly or indirectly take active participation in personnel matters.

In comparison, an IPM will have the authority “to review and make recommendations on administrative investigations prior to their completion, make recommendations to the chief of police regarding administrative action, including possible discipline, for uniformed personnel; make recommendations regarding policy issues; and address any other issues of concern to the community, the members of the Community Police Oversight Board, the Pasadena City Council, the City Manager, or the Chief of Police.”

“I agree with the charter change pertaining to hiring a monitor. That is the best fit,” said Commissioner Raúl Ibáñez.

“I think we should move forward. We have an opportunity to make a change. It may or may not get accepted but if we believe there is something out there that could really make improvements in Pasadena then we should consider putting that forward,” said Commissioner Emeric Ford.

“I too initially felt that the monitor model would be problematic in a number of ways which is why my basic feeling is that we do a charter change to the authority of the Independent Police Auditor rather than changing the name,” said Paula Verrette. “If we did it that way, we would include the monitor activity that we want to have happened.”

Verrette added she is in favor of adding another voice to provide input to the decisions of the police “rather than having them remain silent.”

“I think it’s possible to not infringe but still enhance the role,” Verrette said.

The commissioners will vote on the proposed language to be drafted by the IPA and staff at its meeting on March 7.

CPOC’s discussion on possible charter amendments related to CPOC functions was in response to the Pasadena City Council’s request that the CPOC discuss possible charter amendments to strengthen police oversight.

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