LA County appoints civilian oversight commission for sheriff's department

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Thursday, November 3, 2016
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In a historic vote on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a civilian oversight commission to oversee the sheriff's department.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A historic vote by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was held Tuesday afternoon, which approved a new nine-member civilian oversight commission to oversee the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"This commission is gonna allow us to actually interact with our police department in a very robust way that allows them to listen to us, and us to listen to them," Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman said.

The commission, said to be four years in the making, is meant to restore public trust following years of corruption inside the sheriff's department and in county jails.

"This commission will look and say, 'This could be done better, this was a mistake, this was an intentional bad thing,'" Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.

The commission will discuss various issues including the use of excessive force and body cameras.

"We at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department understand that to build community relations, we must also build community credibility and show that government can work well together and in the best interest of our public," Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

Brian Williams, a former assistant city manager of Pasadena, was appointed as executive director.

"Democracy is loud, and that's how we get progress," Williams stated.

However, others voiced their concerns.

"We also need to look at explicit bias when we look at doing our commissions on who we appoint," social activist Michelle Hope Walker said.

Some activists were disappointed to see that Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter national network, was not selected as the commissioner.

"To not be selected, I think sends a bad signal to the community, that there may be limits to who can sit on this commission," expressed Mark-Anthony Johnson of Dignity & Power Now.

Regarding activists' concern, Williams acknowledged that it was impossible to satisfy all parties.

"The one thing that I can guarantee is that every voice is going to be heard," Williams noted.