Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas Appoints Leading Community Pastor To Oversee LA Sheriff Reform
On January 12, 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to implement a Civilian Oversight Commission with the mission to improve public transparency and accountability with respect to the Los Angeles Sheriff Department (LASD). The Commission will provide opportunities for community engagement and ongoing analysis and oversight of the LASD’s policies, practices, and procedures, as well as advice to the Sheriff, the Board, and the public. The Commission is comprised of nine members, representing the Board, and providing expertise in such disciplines as custody, juvenile justice, and mental health. The Los Angeles County Office of Inspector General (OIG) and its staff work closely with the Commission and will be responsible for its investigative function.
Five of the Civilian Oversight Commission members are Board-appointed. Xavier L. Thompson is one of those persons, having been appointed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of the 2nd Supervisorial District. Pastor Thompson is a man of integrity, honesty, and character; has record of community involvement and service; and the demonstrated ability to be fair, impartial, and unbiased stated Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.
Community advocates and those demanding police reform have demanded this type of oversight for both The Sheriff’s Department, The Los Angeles Police Department and many other local police departments for several years. African Americans and other communities of color have been demanding that peace officers throughout the state and the nation been governed by a non partisan community oversight board and not just be allowed to police themselves. The Sentinel reported last year that in order for there to be true reform the State of California must reform the Peace Officers Bill of Rights and while this commission does not overturn the bill it is a step in the right direction. Many within the community believe that Xavier Thompson is the kind of community advocate with strong ties to the community and a man who has been an advocate for change and police reform for years is the right appointment at the right time to serve on this commission.
The role of the Commissioner, which is advisory in nature, is to work together with the other members of the Commission to:
¨ review and analyze LASD’s operational policies and procedures affecting the community;
¨ investigate through the OIG and analyze systemic LASD-related issues or complaints;
¨ function as a liaison or, at the request of those involved, as a mediator to help resolve ongoing disputes between the LASD and members of the community;
¨ obtain community input and feedback on specific incidents involving use of force, detention conditions, or other civil rights concerns regarding the LASD and convey complaints, concerns, and/or positive feedback to the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors;
¨ make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff on LASD operational policies, practices, and procedures affecting the community;
¨ work with and assist the OIG in soliciting community input and feedback on issues under investigation by the OIG.
On November 1, 2016, the Board approved the nine members of the Civilian Oversight Commission. The Civilian Oversight Board will conduct their first official meeting on Thursday, January 26, 2017.