Bakersfield, California 2020-10-18 18:00:00 –
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office, which may be the first in its history, is conducting an internal investigation of its activities into a panel of locals to strengthen its relationship with the communities in which it serves.
Announced in July, a panel called the County-Wide Community Advisory Board has just released a member’s slate and participated in an introductory zoom meeting with the sheriff’s office. Both sides acknowledge that some disagreement may occur, but the Sheriff’s Office and the Advisory Committee believe that the actual changes will be made as the Panel does its work.
Arleana Waller, Chairman of the Council, who formed the Council through the MLK Community Initiative, said: “I have hope. That’s why I have hope. In my understanding, people have been asking for something like this for six or seven years, but they haven’t been able to achieve it. did.”
Even Sheriff Donnie Young Blood expressed hope that this team of outsiders could improve his department, even if that meant bringing up difficult conversations.
“God knows that what we need now is a better relationship with our community,” he said, and some of the changes proposed by the Commission may not be feasible. I admitted that I couldn’t. “So if we think they can come up with what we can implement and make positive changes, we’re all in favor of that.”
The council is made up of 32 independently selected members selected from all walks of life. About 70 applicants suggested their names. This can be seen as a large number for volunteer committees seeking a commitment of at least one year.
“We seek people from all sides, those who believe the sheriff is the worst thing that has ever happened, and those who the sheriff thinks is the best thing that has ever happened. “I am,” said Waller. “I have a friend who applied because we really wanted to bring the best to this council.”
The following year, the council set an ambitious agenda to analyze all aspects of the department’s operations and develop policy proposals. The council develops five priorities to guide its work throughout the rest of the year. Every topic is considered, from the use of force by the department to the recruitment of minority officers.
The council tries to do what a few people have tried. In the past, Mr Young Blood said the committee initiated by the sheriff’s office failed after several meetings due to lack of interest.
The council wants to be different, and the sheriff’s office wants to learn as much as possible in the process.
“We want to learn a little more from our community about how they feel,” Youngblood said. “I hope they learn how they feel while the car is parked and in contact with the police, and some of the things we experience.”
The council has drawn the attention of the California Department of Justice, which has been investigating the overuse of force and other illegal activities by the KCSO and Bakersfield Police Department since 2016. Both Waller and Young Blood raised the ministry’s involvement in separate interviews. Waller said he refused to join the Justice Department’s committee because he didn’t want the Justice Department to be too political.
Still, the committee is working on what can be a long process with great expectations.
“Are you aware that we are starting something spectacular?” Waller said. “of course.”
You can reach Sammorgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @ smorgenTBC.