This came over the transom this morning from Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray:
Response to Recent Inquiries about Proposed Citizen Oversight Committee
Over the past few weeks, my office has received inquiries about Mayor Tait’s proposed Citizen Oversight Committee.
Let me begin by saying, Anaheim is one of the safest cities of its size in California. I believe this is due to the professionalism of our law enforcement officers and personnel. However, we are not without our challenges. That is why public safety and security of our neighborhoods will continue to be my top priorities.
Last year alone, Anaheim police responded to 132,038 calls and received only 19 external complaints at a time when the Department had been hit by recessionary cuts and under staffing. In order to continue providing essential services and safety to residents it is absolutely imperative that we support our police and public safety with the resources necessary to protect residents and keep our neighborhoods safe by bringing staffing back up to pre-recessionary levels.
In light of recent incidents of concern, I believe it is equally as important for the City to continue working with the District Attorney’s office and other independent authorities to investigate and communicate with impacted families and residents. To be clear, I fully support the rigorous investigation of inappropriate conduct committed by members of our public safety. However, I am reticent to establish an additional entity such as a Citizen Review Board that could disrupt the ability of local police and currently existing oversight agencies to respond appropriately to incidents and hold officers accountable. At this time, there are already four preexisting investigative bodies reviewing incidents of inappropriate force and misconduct:
* Anaheim Police Department Internal Affairs
* Major Incident Review Team (MIRT)
* Orange County District Attorney
* Orange County Office of Independent Review (OIR).
There is a fifth oversight body as well, which is the directly elected Anaheim City Council. In addition, this past year, the city called for additional oversight by the State Attorney General and federal authorities.
The City of Anaheim also has an existing Community Advisory Board established by Chief John Welter that has been meeting regularly with the Chief for more than seven years. The 22-member board provides advice, guidance, community opinions and direction on police activities – and serves as a direct path to the Police Chief and his Department. The Board helps police develop crime prevention strategies like the successful Gang Reduction Intervention Program (GRIP). The members include residents from throughout Anaheim, school teachers and administrators, business owners, and members of a variety of faith based organizations. They are as diverse as the community of Anaheim.
While overall Anaheim may be one of the safest cities of its size, we have neighborhoods impacted daily by escalating gang violence. Every loss of life is a travesty and I believe it is essential for the city to address the root problems. I have asked the City Manager to develop goals and bring back reforms for Council consideration that will reduce all shootings and gang violence in Anaheim.
As the establishment of a Citizen Review Board continues to be explored and discussed, I encourage you to attend an upcoming council meeting and offer your insights on how the City can best respond to the needs of residents. If you are not able to attend a meeting in person, please take a moment to send an email addressed to the City Manager, Mayor and City Council at email@example.com or to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kris Murray, Council Member
City of Anaheim