SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — By a wide margin, San Jose voters approved a measure to expand the authority of the civilian police watchdog.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, Measure G passed with 78 percent of the 227,000 votes cast. Measure G establishes a charter amendment that expands the Independent Police Auditor’s authority, alters San Jose’s Planning Commission size and composition and creates new redistricting rules.
The measure comes after weeks of civil unrest and significant scrutiny of police practices by residents. If passed, the changes may be implemented in January.
San Jose’s Independent Police Auditor currently acts as the civilian watchdog and investigates civilian-initiated complaints. The measure allows the City Council to change the auditor’s roles without a public vote.
“It gives the IPA expanded authority to be able to investigate and review use of force complaints, officer-involved shootings, where they had been restricted from doing these investigations,” Vice Mayor Chappie Jones said. “The fact that they will be able to do that will offer a good amount of transparency and find out why they happened, how they happened and who is responsible.”
Currently, the IPA’s duties were to receive complaints from civilians against police officers to determine if the investigation was complete, thorough, objective and fair.
It also does an annual review of the department data and statistics and makes recommendations regarding police department policies and procedures based on investigations.
With the measure, the IPA would still do those things, but also be able to conduct internal investigations initiated by police, review unredacted police records related to officer-involved shootings and use of force incidents whether or not a civilian complaint was filed, and review some redacted police records to make recommendations on department policies.
However, the IPA’s investigations will not hold precedence over internal police investigations.
“Police will still do their own internal reviews but the IPA will also have the ability to engage in that as well,” Jones said. “My understanding is the internal investigation will still have precedence but obviously if the IPA uncovers or discovers any additional information that isn’t part of the police’s investigation then she can probably roll with it.”
Residents called on the city to diversify the ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of the Planning Commission and that is what the second part of the measure addresses.
San Jose’s Planning Commission advises the City Council on land-use policies, with impact on affordable-housing developments and other projects.
Currently, there are seven at-large members appointed by the whole council. Measure G expands the commission to 11 members — 10 of which are appointed by their respective city councilmember and one at-large member.
Measure G also establishes different timelines for redistricting council districts in the event Census results are late.
Right now, the charter requires the council to appoint an Advisory Commission by Feb. 1 in the year following the Census, but if passed, the council could adjust the timeline if the Census results are delivered after April 1.
The three components of the measure were combined as a cost-saving effort and because they are all charter amendments that do not face significant opposition, city officials said.
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