The Civilian Oversight Commission for the Sheriff’s Department held its inaugural meeting, heralding a new era in the relationship between law enforcement and the people it is sworn to protect and serve.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, principal author of the motion that created the Commission, administered the oath of office to its members during a ceremony at the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall.
“(The Commission) will play an important role in promoting transparency, restoring public trust, validating reform efforts, and enhancing the effectiveness of the Sheriff’s Department,” he declared. “I believe these things are fundamentally important.”
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the Commission, composed of community and faith leaders, a retired Sheriff’s lieutenant, former prosecutors and public defenders, professors and executives from legal non-profit organizations, would bring “much needed and welcome outside expertise and points of view.”
“The Civilian Oversight Commission will allow the people of Los Angeles County to participate in the process as we seek resolution to some of the most challenging criminal justice issues of our time,” he said.
The Commission will meet on the fourth Thursday of every month to provide robust opportunities for community engagement, ongoing analysis and oversight of Sheriff’s Department policies, practices and procedures. It will work in partnership with the public, the Board of Supervisors and Office of Inspector General, in addition to the Sheriff’s Department.
The Commission’s members, in alphabetical order, are:
- Robert Bonner, lawyer and former U.S. Attorney and DEA Administrator, who will chair the Commission;
- Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence;
- JP Harris, former Sheriff’s lieutenant;
- Sean Kennedy, Executive Director of Center for Juvenile Law & Policy at Loyola Law School and former federal public defender;
- Heather Miller, Rabbi, Beth Chayim Chadashim;
- Priscilla Ocen, Loyola Law School Associate Professor;
- Lael Rubin, former Deputy District Attorney;
- Xavier Thompson, President of Baptist Ministers’ Conference and Senior Pastor of the Southern Saint Paul Church, who will serve as the Commission’s vice chair; and
- Hernán Vera, lawyer and former president and CEO of Public Counsel.