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Alameda County has the worst jail in the state, with tragic avoidable deaths every year. Our Peace & Justice Action Team has been working with the Interfaith Coalition for Justice in our Jails to create a Sheriff Oversight Board. Community support for Oversight has been strong, but lately supporters of the sheriff (some claiming to be “sovereign citizens” not subject to law) have been speaking against it. So we need to go to this meeting and make public comments!
This is a very important meeting because we expect this committee to refer proposed ordinance language to the full Board for adoption. Normally, the Board adopts what this committee advances. Some things to know:
The law would only provide for an Inspector General and/or an Oversight Commission to investigate the policies and actions of the Sheriff with power to issue subpoenas for testimony and documents. The law specifically prohibits interference in any investigations of the Sheriff’s Office.
We believe it is critical that any oversight body have legal counsel independent of the County Counsel, which is required by law to also represent the Sheriff.
In other counties, such as Los Angeles, that have adopted oversight, legal counsel is independent of the Sheriff. Legal disputes to date elsewhere have all concerned enforcement of subpoenas.
In L.A. the Sheriff has simply refused to comply with subpoenas. If Sheriff Ahern similarly refused to comply with subpoenas, enforcement would go to the courts and if the County Counsel prevailed, they would control the legal representation of both the oversight body and the Sheriff!
What Can I Do?
Join the Meeting: Please use the Zoom Webinar meeting link and not the link ending in broadcast.htm (for observing only). There is a link to the basic instructions in the agenda, including how to participate on portable devices or over the phone. For computer users:
Get Ready to Speak: Sheriff Oversight is item #3 on the agenda. Anytime during that presentation you may use the “reactions” tab at the bottom of your zoom screen to “raise your hand”. The Clerk of the Board will put you in a queue to speak. Before the item is concluded or voted on, the Chair will call for public comment on that agenda item only. Listen carefully at this point because the Clerk will only announce “Next caller, please unmute yourself.” You will know they are calling on you when the message to unmute is displayed in the middle of your screen. They do not normally identify you by name, even if your zoom i.d. gives one. The only notice you have that you are now being called on is that message in the middle of your screen to unmute yourself. There will be no transmission of video from your end, only your audio. You may raise your zoom hand at any point during the presentation or before public comment ends on that item.
Speak Your Mind: You will have only 2 minutes to speak. Start by identifying yourself by name, your city of residence, and, very important, your membership with Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church in Hayward. It is best to state at the beginning your position on the issue you’re speaking to and then your comments.
Thank you so much if you can attend and speak. You may monitor the meeting using the zoom link on your phone and be ready to speak when Sheriff Oversight comes up. It is uncertain when that will happen and it appears because this item is expected to have many public speakers, including “sovereign citizens”, it is last on the agenda in an attempt to discourage public input. But Starr King will be there!