County law-enforcement review board still grappling with case backlog
This evening, the San Diego County Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board holds its first meeting with newly hired executive office Patrick Hunter. Hunter, whose hiring I wrote about last month, will have to deal with a backlog of cases that have been accumulating for more than a year. As the article put it:
Short-staffed for more than a year, CLERB has had to dismiss 19 complaints in the last five months, all of them brought by county residents against sheriff’s deputies and probation officers. The dismissed complaints range from simple discourtesy to serious allegations of excessive force and illegal search and seizure by county law enforcement. But, under the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, if an officer is to be disciplined for misconduct, the discipline must be imposed within one year of the incident in question. Even though CLERB can’t mandate that disciplinary action be taken against an officer—it can only make a recommendation—county lawyers have advised CLERB to dismiss any complaints that can’t be fully investigated within a year.
The backlog is due to two things: the county freezing CLERB’s budget while it looked into a former investigator’s allegations of gross mismanagement by executive officer Carol Trujillo and Trujillo’s abrupt resignation in March, leaving CLERB with only one full-time investigator.
At today’s meeting, CLERB board members will be asked to dismiss another 16 complaints that were filed more than a year ago. (You can find summaries of the complaints here.) When I spoke with Hunter in June, he acknowledged the backlog and said it’s his goal to get CLERB caught up.
“We want to get the caseload manageable,” Hunter said, “and part of that is going to be with the addition of a second investigator—to get the caseload back to a manageable level where we’re not dismissing any cases because of time problems.”
For anyone interested in attending the meeting, it starts at 5:30 p.m. in rooms 302 and 303 of the County Administration Building, 1600 Pacific Hwy.