On February 19, 2013 the Fullerton City Council  heard a proposal by The Police Oversight Proposal Committee (POPC), a grassroots group of citizens who came together in the aftermath of the Kelly Thomas killing to formulate a plan for police oversight. POPC  presented an ordinance adopting a formal Police Commission in Fullerton. This ordinance would require that this Police Commission, independent of the Fullerton Police Department, would have access to complaints against officers, the power to subpoena testimony and documents, and the authority to recommend disciplinary actions and follow up on implementation as essential components of an effective oversight board. No members of law enforcement or city staff would be eligible to serve on the commission.

The ordinance presented for consideration by the City Council is the result of over eighteen months of research and discussion, and reflects the committee’s best recommendation for effective, lasting, and constructive civilian oversight of the Fullerton Police Department. It is offered as a tool to prevent costly future lawsuits filed against the city over actions by officers of the FPD, as well as a liaison between the department and the public it is sworn to serve.

The proposed draft ordinance is as follows:

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(a) The City Council, by ordinance, shall establish a Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission consisting of not less than five (5) nor more than nine (9) members appointed by the City Council. Members of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall serve without compensation for terms not to exceed two years as established by ordinance, and members shall be appointed for not more than three consecutive full terms. Fullerton City employees and persons employed as peace officers or custodial officers in Fullerton or any other jurisdiction shall not be eligible to be members of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission.

(b) Members of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall serve at the pleasure of the City Council. At large appointments may be removed at any time by a majority vote of the City Council. Direct appointments may be removed at the discretion of the appointing City Councilmember.

(c) Vacancies on the Citizens Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall be filled for the balance of the unexpired term in the same manner as the position was originally filled.

(d) The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall have the power to subpoena and require attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers pertinent to its investigations and to administer oaths.

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(e) The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission may appoint in accordance with its established procedures such personnel as may be authorized by the City Council. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Charter, any authorized executive director and investigators of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall be in the classified or the unclassified service as determined, by ordinance, by the City Council.

(f) The City Council, by ordinance, shall establish the duties of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission and its duties shall include but are not limited to the following:

(1) Receive, review and investigate citizens complaints which charge peace officers employed by the Police Department with (A) use of excessive force, (B) discrimination or sexual harassment in respect to members of the public, (C) the improper discharge of firearms, (D) illegal search or seizure, (E) false arrest, (f) false reporting, (G) criminal conduct or (H) misconduct. All action complaints shall be in writing and the truth thereof shall be attested under penalty of perjury. “Misconduct” is defined to mean and include any alleged improper or illegal acts, omissions or decisions directly affecting the person or property of a specific citizen by reason of:

1. An alleged violation of any general, standing or special orders or guidelines of the Police Department; or
2. An alleged violation of any state or federal law; or
3. Any act otherwise evidencing improper or unbecoming conduct by a peace officer employed by the Police Department.

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(2) Review and investigate the death of any individual arising out of or in connection with actions of peace officers employed by the Police Department, regardless of whether a citizen complaint regarding such death has been filed with the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission.

(3) Prepare reports, including at least the Chief of Police as recipients, on the results of any investigations conducted by the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission in respect to the activities of peace officers, including recommendations relating to the imposition of discipline and recommendations relating to any trends in regard to employees involved in citizen complaints.

(4) Prepare an annual report to the City Council, City Manager, City Attorney and Chief of Police summarizing the activities and recommendations of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission, including the tracking and identification of trends in respect to all complaints received and investigated during the reporting period.

(5) Notify in writing any citizens having filed a complaint with the Citizens Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission of the disposition of his or her complaint. City Manager and City Attorney shall also receive appropriate notification of the disposition of citizen complaints.

(6) Review and make recommendations on policies and procedures of the Police Department.

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(7) Establish necessary rules and regulations for the conduct of its business, subject to approval of the City Council.

(8) Perform such other duties as the City Council, by ordinance, may assign to the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission.

(g) The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall have the same standing as presently held by officers of the Police Department to appeal a decision of the Chief of Police in imposition or non-imposition of discipline in relation to an open investigation performed by the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission.

Find the Police Oversight Proposal Committee on Facebook

www.facebook.com/POPC2012