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Residents Disappointed Police Oversight Discussion Left Off Public Safety Committee Agenda

Gordo guarantees ‘transparent and robust discussion’ at upcoming City Council meeting

Published on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 2:14 pm
 
After Pasadena’s City Council began to focus on police oversight last summer, an officer-involved shooting left Pasadenan Anthony McClain dead and reignited community calls for increased oversight of the Pasadena Police Dept. Here, a demonstrator rides his skateboard holding a sign reading “No Justice No Peace” as he takes part in a protest against police brutality last June. Pasadena City Hall looms in the background. (Photo by James Carbone)

Despite declarations that the matter could come before the City Council on Monday, local residents today expressed disappointment that police oversight was not on the Public Safety Committee’s first agenda of the year.

“[This was] the first meeting of the newly constituted Public Safety Committee which is now chaired by Mayor Victor Gordo,” said Kris Ockershauser, who serves on the Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police (CICOPP) and is also a board member of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP).

“I am deeply concerned that today’s Public Safety Committee meeting agenda does not include any of the promised discussion of the appointments of community members. Also, the agenda does not include discussion of the training requirements the community has been requesting for all commission members,” Ockershauser said.

The city began accepting applications for the city’s Police Oversight Commission last Tuesday, but so far the city has not decided on the vetting process for potential members of the new board.

“I am deeply concerned that today’s Public Safety Committee meeting does not include any of the promised discussion of (1) appointments of community members to three seats on the Community Police Oversight Commission and (2) training requirements for appointees,” said Sonja K. Berndt, a retired state prosecutor.

“These critical issues for our city have not been agendized since the committee’s Oct. 7, 2020 meeting. While an application for appointment to the Community Police Oversight Commission has been advertised, the critical issues of the appointment process and the training that will be required are apparently stalled in this Committee for unknown reasons,” Berndt said.

At last Monday’s City Council meeting, Gordo said the item is scheduled to come before the council on Jan. 25.

Gordo said that he wanted the matter to come before Public Safety, but it was decided at a previous council meeting that the issue would return to the council for consideration.

“When this matter was last discussed at the council it was agreed upon that the matter would not go to committee and would come back to the full City Council,” Gordo told Pasadena Now.

“There will be a transparent and robust discussion on the matter at the highest level, at the City Council,” Gordo said.

The City Council unanimously approved the framework of the commission in October.

The issue gained traction and urgency following the officer-involved deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Contributing to the local sense of urgency was the Aug. 15 shooting death of Anthony McClain by a Pasadena police officer.

City Council members from each of the city’s seven districts will nominate a commissioner, and the mayor will nominate another.

In addition, three at-large commissioners from community-based groups will be nominated. The council will have final approval on all the commissioners and an auditor.

Nominees are required to live in the city, though they are not required to be residents of the district represented by the nominating councilmember. Another goal is for at least 50 percent of the commission’s appointees to be women.

In addition, practicing attorneys would not be able to serve if they or their firm or entity currently have pending criminal or civil cases involving Pasadena police officers.

There has also been discussion about whether current or former police officers would be eligible to serve on the commission, and that’s a debate that will be revisited.

Commissioners’ terms will be for three years and staggered.

“We need to ensure the commissioners appointed to the Community Police Oversight Commission go through sufficient training to help bring equitable solutions for a safer Pasadena,” Ockershauser said.

“If we are to achieve true police reform, all appointed commissioners need to participate in Crossroads anti-racism training and trauma-informed care training,” she said.

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