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County Moves Foward with Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement and Jails

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          

October 8, 2019

For More Information, Contact:
Charlsie Chang
(408) 299-5050 office
(626) 898-2395 cell
Charlsie.Chang@bos.sccgov.org 

COUNTY MOVES FORWARD WITH CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND JAILS

SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today voted unanimously to select OIR Group to head the Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring (OCLEM), and authorize the Clerk of the Board to commence contract negotiations. OCLEM was established following the tragic death of jail inmate Michael Tyree in 2015.

“Meaningful civilian monitoring is an essential component of the reform effort that has been under way for more than three years,” said Board President Joe Simitian, who initially proposed the new office two years ago.

In June of 2018, the County issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an independent contractor to move forward with significant and expansive efforts to improve monitoring of the County jails and law enforcement.

The OIR Group is a consulting firm that specializes in the independent review of police practices to strengthen accountability and promote new approaches to effective policing. The firm is based in Los Angeles, but works extensively in Northern California. Once negotiations are finalized and the OIR Group is onboard, OIR will stand up the Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring for the County.

The Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring will have five primary responsibilities:

·        Operations monitoring and audit (that is, monitoring of day to day operations; audit and monitor the investigation of complaints);

·        Receive complaints;

·        Policy analysis and recommendations;

·        Community outreach; and,

·        Mediation.

“Having meaningful independent oversight of our jail and law enforcement is a crucial step in building and maintaining the public’s trust,” said Ron Hansen of People Acting in Community Together (PACT) San Jose. “There are many reforms that need to be made, but the establishment of this new monitor is a strong start.” 

The ordinance establishing the Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring also creates a Community Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring Committee, which will be made up of appointed community members.

“The beating death in our jail highlighted the need for monitoring on both the correctional side and the patrol side of operations in the Sheriff’s Department,” said Board President Joe Simitian, who authored the ordinance establishing the oversight effort.

“This was a challenging, but critical endeavor. Frankly, getting it right took longer than I hoped. But striking the right balance is key. We have to keep the public safe, and protect their due process rights. We have to keep our officers safe, and protect their due process rights. And we have to build and maintain the public’s trust in law enforcement, which is in everybody’s interest,” said Simitian.

“With the selection of OIR, we’re finally ready to deliver on the promise of civilian oversight,” said Simitian.


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Last updated: 10/11/2019 11:55 AM