Police Review Commission Lacks Chief Administrator By Judith Scherr

Friday February 24, 2006

One of the important functions of the Police Review Commission is to recommend policy changes, based on the complaints the commission sees, according to Deputy City Attorney Sarah Reynoso. 

But for a year the PRC has lacked someone in the position of a Police Review Commission officer, a professional to head the PRC.  

Because there is no permanent professional in that position, “a lot of policy issues have been tabled,” said PRC Chair Annie Chung, pointing in particular to a need for new police policies with respect to citing homeless people sleeping in front of businesses. 

The PRC also should be looking at the police department’s mutual aid pact, in relation to dealing with terrorist suspects, she said. 

“We need an officer to initiate research,” she added.  

PRC Commissioner Jonathan Wafer agreed. 

“(The vacancy) is a gaping hole,” he said. “We need it filled to work in a timely fashion.” 

Commissioner Sharon Kidd was adamant, charging that city staff is keeping the commission out of the loop, with respect to hiring the PRC officer. According to Kidd, a member of the commission sat in with the hiring team—the city manager, the deputy city manager, and the city attorney—up until the hiring team reduced the applicant pool to the top five. At that point, the commission member was excluded. 

Kidd says she does not know why city staff did not choose one of the finalists. 

“Out of five people, is no one qualified?” she asked, adding that she thinks, since the PRC officer works with the commission, two commissioners should be part of the hiring team, up until the time the officer is hired. 

Chung said she wants the City Council to discuss the longtime vacancy and put some pressure on city staff to find a professional to fill the position, which pays $87,000 to $115,000 annually. 

Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna said the city wants to hire a person in that position. 

“It’s about finding the person with the most well-rounded overall qualifications,” she said. “We just try to be as cautious and careful as possible. Sometimes, it’s not a speedy process.” 

At the same time, Caronna said she feels the PRC is functioning well as it is. 

“We have somebody in that position now,” she said, pointing to acting officer Dan Silva, an investigator with the PRC. 

“We try to give people internally the opportunity for these positions,” she said, adding, “People internally have an opportunity to grow.”