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City Committee Tackles Civilian Oversight of Police Today

City staff will present civilian review options; police will present force policy updates, Fire Chief to report on fireworks mitigation

Published on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | 4:46 am
Pasadena’s Public Safety Committee today resumes discussion of the creation of a civilian oversight board which could, among other matters, review use of force incidents. Pictured is a 2012 incident in which protestors alleged at least 11 Pasadena officers used excessive force against them.

Reflecting the impact of nearly a month of demonstrations and discussions on police reform, the Pasadena City Council Public Safety Committee will continue its discussion Wednesday on the formation of a civilian police review board.

Pasadena, and the nation at large, has seen continuing protests following the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody.

The committee—Councilmembers John Kennedy, Tyron Hampton, Steve Madison, and Mayor Terry Tornek—will meet online for the public meeting, as they did last month.

In a soul-searching four-hour meeting last month, the committee directed City staff to present a list of options for some type of civilian review board for the Council to review.

Discussing police reform, Councilmember Tyron Hampton said in June, “This is a wakeup call. I am ready to talk about some kind of police oversight that actually has teeth.”

‘We need to act,” said Tornek. “We need some definitive goal. People need to know that we have heard them, and we are listening.”

Police Chief Perez, who also detailed some department reforms, said last month, “It’s important for us to know that people really do want change, and we are listening. Change is doable, but it’s got to be real. This is more than soundbites to us.”

While the city reviewed a series of reports on civilian oversight of the police in 2016, it did not act to create any type of review board or independent auditor.

Thus the presentation by staff at the meeting Wednesday.

There is already some precedent for the establishment of a civilian review board, based on a 1994 opinion from the City Attorney. That decision concludes that the Police Chief has the authority to appoint members of the community to a police board. The Council, meanwhile, may only select nominees to a Citizen’s Police Academy.

The City Council may need to create an amendment to the City’s Municipal Code to change the 1994 legal opinion.

Section 2.295.050 of  the City’s Code, currently gives the police chief three options for review commissions—a Use of Force Review Board, a Disciplinary Board, and a Risk Management Review Board. The section also gives the Chief of Police his own discretion on referring a matter to review boards.

The code does not “expressly authorize review boards to (a.) initiate or conduct investigations; (b.) play a role in the development of police policies and procedures and/or; (c.)utilize a budget to have staff or consultants to perform a portion of the board’s work.

According to a staff report, the police department has not convened the Municipal Code-authorized review board for approximately the past ten years.

Meanwhile, as part of his ‘Change of Command Review,’ Police Chief John Perez requested that the National Police Foundation (NPF) conduct a review of the Pasadena Police Department’s use of force policies in 2019:

While awaiting the finalized report from the NPF, the Pasadena Police Department updated policies in early 2020 to be in-line with changes created by AB 392, and utilized some changes from a draft report from the NFP.

The Department also tailored changes specifically to ensure proper training and best practice. The changes/additions will be highlighted for the presentation to the committee by Pasadena Deputy Chief Cheryl Moody.

Interim Pasadena Fire Chief Bryan Frieders, will also deliver  a report on the Department’s 2020 Fireworks mitigation efforts.

According to the planned presentation, “Curbing illegal fireworks use and enforcement remains challenging due to pervasive use of fireworks by the public,

Frieders will also report that Police and Fire collaboration will continue, but alternative methods of enforcement will be discussed for 2021.

The presentation will also note that “The ordinance holding property owners and tenants responsible for illegal activity continues to be a useful tool for enforcement officers in gaining compliance.”

The committee meeting may be accessed at and 

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