Open Letter to Solano Supervisors: Call for a Civilian Oversight Board for Sheriff Department

Civilian Oversight for Sheriff’s Department

Open letter by Jean Walker, May 30, 2021
Jean Walker, Benicia

On September 22nd, 2020, the Solano County Board of Supervisors listened to our county’s employees as they described how Solano County’s hiring and promotions system was bogged down by institutional racism. After much discussion, the Board, on a 5-0 vote, created a Subcommittee on Diversity and Equity. On a 3-2 vote, the Board approved funding of $150,000 to support the work of the Subcommittee.

The members of the Subcommittee on Diversity and Equity, including chair Erin Hannigan and Board Chair John Vasquez, have most likely met a few times since last year. I imagine the Subcommittee has hired an equity consultant, as planned, to assist with the process of focusing on internal human resources operations and delivering equitable services to the County’s residents.

As a constituent I am pleased to see that when an important issue like institutional racism in the County’s hiring practices must be addressed, the Board is capable of coming together as a team.

The Board of Supervisors now has another opportunity, via Assembly Bill 1185, to create a Citizens’ Oversight Board for the Sheriff’s Office.

Civilian oversight benefits the public AND benefits police and sheriff’s departments, by …

    • Improving community relations through more open communication between the Sheriff’s Office and the public;
    • Reassuring the community that misconduct is investigated, and that appropriate discipline and training will occur;
    • Increasing the public’s understanding of law enforcement policies and procedures;
    • Improving those policies and procedures; and
    • Assessing liability management, thereby reducing the likelihood and cost of litigation.

Please, Supervisor Brown, I hope you will once again raise the motion to agendize the proposal of discussing a Civilian Oversight Board. I hope one of the two members of the Diversity and Equity Subcommittee will be a good team member and second Supervisor Brown’s motion.

Jean Walker