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Update: Urge Your County Supervisor to Take Effective Action on Sheriff Office Oversight!

Updated: Apr 14

In 2021, AB 1185 took effect in California, giving county Boards of Supervisors (BOS) the authority to establish civilian oversight for county sheriff offices. The Alameda County Council of the League of Women Voters (ACC), representing the six Leagues in the County, is part of the Alameda County Sheriff Oversight Coalition, which is advocating for strong and effective oversight. 


The Alameda County BOS is considering two proposals for implementing AB 1185. One, from the County Counsel, would allow non-residents of Alameda County and retired law enforcement employees to serve on the oversight board. It would also fail to establish independent legal counsel for the board.


The second proposal requires independent legal counsel, provides that the oversight board members be Alameda County residents, and prohibits current and former law enforcement employees from serving on the board. The ACC, along with our coalition partners, strongly support this second proposal. 


Please contact your Supervisor by email or phone. You can identify your Supervisor here.


Sample email message to send to your Supervisor using the email link below:

Dear Supervisor xxx, 


I urge you to pass effective Sheriff Oversight for Alameda County. In order to ensure that the Oversight Board represents the whole Alameda County community, and that it has the power to produce the needed changes, I support:

  • A fully Independent Legal Counsel that serves the Oversight Board and Office of Inspector General

  • A clear statement of the power and responsibilities of the Board of Supervisors, the Oversight Board, and the Inspector General

  • Power for the Inspector General to investigate incidents without specific authorization from the Sheriff

  • An Oversight Board with 9 members to ensure that they can provide appropriate oversight

  • A budget that ensures the ability of the Oversight Board to do the investigative work necessary for effective oversight.


Sincerely,

(Your name)

(Your address) (to show you are a constituent)


Click here to generate an email to your Supervisor


Sample phone message:

I am (name) and a constituent of Supervisor (name).


I support effective sheriff oversight in Alameda County. I urge the Supervisor to vote for a stronger Option B, and in particular, to ensure (choose one or more points):


  • A fully Independent Legal Counsel for the Oversight Board and Office of Inspector General

  • A clear statement of the power and responsibilities of the Board of Supervisors, the Oversight Board, and the Inspector General

  • Power for the Inspector General to investigate incidents without specific authorization from the Sheriff

  • An Oversight Board with 9 members to ensure that they can provide appropriate oversight.

  • A budget that ensures the ability of the Oversight Board to do the investigative work necessary for effective oversight.


Thank you very much for your work for the people of Alameda County.


Phone numbers:

  • District 1: (510) 272-6691

  • District 2: (510) 272-6692

  • District 3: (510) 272-6693

  • District 4: (510) 272-6694

  • District 5: (510) 272-6695


Further background: State law mandates that county boards of supervisors oversee sheriffs’ offices. AB 1185, which took effect in 2021, gave counties the authority to establish civilian oversight boards to assist supervisors in that role. It is a proactive step towards enhancing sheriff accountability and transparency. Counties throughout the state have either already established oversight boards, or are working to do so. 


The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is currently considering two proposals. The first (Option “A”) is a limited oversight board, giving significant power to both the Board of Supervisors and to the Sheriff. The option that the LWV is supporting (Option “B”) creates a more independent board with more power to investigate. Even though it is stronger, it needs some refinements. The particular points that we are lobbying on are:


  • Independent legal counsel: It is essential that legal counsel to the Oversight Board be independent. The County Counsel’s Office also represents the Sheriff’s office, so should be excluded from representing oversight, since that would be a conflict of interest. 

  • Clarity of power and responsibilities: Ensure the ordinance mirrors the actual law of AB 1185, by adding the language from the law directly into the ordinance. This would add clarity about the powers of the BOS, the Oversight Board, and Office of Inspector General (OIG) as it is enumerated in AB 1185. The language that should be added reads as follow: 

The exercise of powers under this section or other investigative functions performed by a board of supervisors, sheriff oversight board, or inspector general vested with oversight responsibility for the sheriff shall not be considered to obstruct the investigative functions of the sheriff as defined in California Government Code § 25303.7(c)(2)-(d).

  • Investigative power: Allow the OIG to investigate specific incidents involving the sheriff's office personnel without needing the Sheriff's request or authorization. Otherwise, the current language allows the Sheriff to deny authorization to any personnel investigation and render the OIG powerless, contrary to the intention and spirit of AB 1185. 

  • Oversight board size: Allow the oversight board to be comprised of 9 members to allow sufficient capacity for the amount of work required to provide appropriate oversight.

  • Budget: The OIG shall have the budget and power to hire sufficient investigative staff. 


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