A Santa Clara County supervisor is calling for a new civilian oversight body to keep an eye on county law enforcement and corrections.
Supervisor Joe Simitian, whose district includes Palo Alto, has proposed a new Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Oversight as the next step in reforms enacted after the murder of an inmate at the Santa Clara County's main jail in 2015. The plan will be considered by the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Tuesday.
"Meaningful oversight is an essential component of the reform effort that has been under way for the past two years," Simitian said in a statement. "It's time to take the policy discussions we've had and turn them into tangible change."
The proposed office would oversee the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office patrol and corrections divisions. It would oversee day-to-day operations, monitor and audit the investigation of complaints, make policy recommendations and conduct community outreach and mediation.
The proposal was one of the top two suggestions by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Improving Custody Relations established after the death of Santa Clara County inmate Michael Tyree, a 33-year-old mentally ill prisoner who was beaten to death by three deputies at San Jose's Main Jail in 2015.
The three deputies were later convicted of second-degree murder and will be sentenced on Nov. 3.
Simitian's proposal would also create a new Citizens' Access Oversight Committee to ensure public access, engagement and input. He said the citizen's committee would serve an advisory function.
"As proposed, it would not have an investigative power or authority," he said Thursday. "It would be advisory and designed to facilitate public access, engagement and participation."
He said the ordinance has taken into account community, county staff and sheriff's office suggestions as well as best practices recommended by law enforcement experts.