Almost two years ago, 65% of Sonoma County voters cast their votes for Measure P. It was a clear reflection of a desire for stronger oversight of county law enforcement.
The sheriff, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA) and their conservative allies fought against it. Writing a measure is difficult. Most end up with wiggle room for different interpretations. That happened with Measure P.
But through the campaign, the framers, its endorsers and the voters were clear. They wanted independent investigations of death and serious injury at the hands of a deputy or while in custody to be independently investigated from Day One. They wanted the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach to have subpoena power. They wanted change.
The interpretation of the conservative groups which opposed Measure P guts much of the measure. So, when the Board of Supervisors proudly announced the implementation of Measure P through Letters of Understanding with the deputies, which interpretation did they implement? The interpretation of the opposition.
Recently, Supervisor James Gore claimed that “we all worked to pass Measure P.” Despite having supported the opposition, Mr. Gore claims that citizen complaints are “complete crap.”
And when the California Supreme Court supported the voters’ interpretation of Measure P, not the DSA’s, there was no proud announcement. There was silence.
Now that the courts have spoken, it is time for the board to rescind the Letters. If they fail to act, it will be difficult to miss understanding which side the board is on.
Susan Collier Lamont