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Community Police Commission Does Not Need Reviewing

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Some of the new city council representatives in Riverside are considering eliminating the newly established Community Police Review Commission.

These councilmembers are taking their que from members of the Police Officers’ Association. I can understand why the police association does not want the community review commission but I find it puzzling as to why the elected representatives want to dismantle public participation.

In San Bernardino there was a riot at one of the comprehensive high schools and the community wanted to know what happened and why the police were protecting White students while beating and locking up Black and Latino students. It was the Police Commission that did their own independent investigation that helped restore calm in a bad situation. With so much distrust and misinformation about our government and especially our law enforcement community, we should be creating as many ways as possible to have public oversight commissions.

Bush recently set up a commission to help explain why America went to war in Iraq. After the race riots in Los Angeles during the 60s, the Warren Commission was set up because of mistrust between police and the community, and these same elements found their way into the Riverside community after the shooting of Tyisha Miller, which led to the formation of the police review commission. Remember the Police Association shaved their heads in solidarity, the public only saw ultra right winged skinheads.

It would make good sense to me that as an elected official with many responsibilities, if another shooting was to occur, my volunteer representative would come to me and say, “I have investigated the allegations regarding the shooting and find evidence to support or condemn the allegations.” I’m sure the public would be in a much better position to believe that report than one which comes from the police or someone who received campaign contributions from the police association.

When you receive campaign contributions from the police association and they are the ones pushing the issue of dismantling the commission, it appears as though they are doing your thinking. Yet I recall all of you said you were independent thinkers regardless of money given to you during your election.

Now the police association should welcome citizens’ review because these are the same people that say they are sworn to protect and serve. They should be saying to the public, “our officers are a cut above any other public servants and we welcome anyone to sit and meet with us to better understand our role and function in this hostile environment.” The police association should be saying “we want to be your friend and not your enemy.” I always believe in making friends before I need them.

Then when there is another Tyisha Miller or Anastacio Muñoz or René Guavera or Michael Wetter, the commission can explain a very difficult incident to a family that does not understand why their loved one was killed. This will be citizens of the community who have no vested interest in the situation other than fairness and justice. They receive no campaign contributions. They receive no salary from the city. They receive no votes from the voters. They do not have to play politics during a political election. They are appointed by elected representatives to perform a public service to and for the betterment of the community.

The establishment of this review board grew out of a bad situation. I am therefore suggesting that all persons who think that it should be abolished study the reasons it was established in the first place. I suggest you seek out counsel from many citizens before you engage in abolishing the board.

I suggest you talk with citizens who have filed complaints of police misconduct. I suggest you talk with the current and former police chief. I suggest you make your own list of pros and cons so you can defend your actions when requested.

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