The Riverside, Ca., Community Police Review Commission, an independent civilian panel created in the wake of a shooting by police, has emerged as a controversial issue in the runoff election for the city council, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some activists say the police union, which opposed creation of the panel, has contributed thousands of dollars to candidates who may scrap or weaken it.
The council created the board in 2000 at the recommendation of a mayoral panel after four officers shot and killed a 19-year-old black girl in December 1998. The girl was shot to death after she passed out in her car with a loaded gun on her lap. Police seeking to aid her shattered a window, and three officers said she reached for the gun. Officers fired 24 times, killing her and sparking a furor in the African American community.
The nine-member police commission, with a budget of nearly $300,000, investigates citizen complaints against police officers. Commissioners can subpoena officers and witnesses and hire private investigators.
The Riverside Police Officers’ Association has long argued that the commission is redundant and that the police internal affairs bureau, the county district attorney, and the state attorney general all have jurisdiction over the conduct of officers. The association asks council candidates their position on the commission; the answer is one of many factors that influences endorsements and donations. The election is being conducted with mail-in ballots and will be decided Tuesday.