Alameda County Sheriff Accountability

LWV Alameda County Council Advises Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Sheriff Accountability

Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors Public Protection Committee included a presentation with discussion on AB 1185 at their July 8th meeting. AB 1185 is the recently enacted Sheriff Oversight Board and Office of Inspector General bill for which LWVACC strongly supported. Shortly following the July meeting, the LWV Alameda County Council created a letter with suggestions and support then circulated it to all local league boards. All locals voted to sign on, and with the Council’s final approval at their July 24th meeting, the letter was emailed to the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County. Read the letter here.

Alameda; Berkeley/Albany/Emeryville; Eden Area; Fremont/Newark/Union City; Oakland; Piedmont

July 27, 2021

To: Supervisor David Haubert, District 1
Supervisor Richard Valle, District 2
Supervisor Wilma Chan, District 3
Supervisor Nate Miley, District 4
Supervisor Keith Carson, District 5
(via Email)

Re: Ordinance to Establish Accountability of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) – AB 1185

Dear Members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors:

The League of Women Voters of California strongly advocated for passage of AB 1185 saying “We
support police accountability through independent oversight.” 
As members of the Alameda County Council of the League, representing six local Leagues, we
commend you for moving to establish independent oversight of the Sheriff’s Office in Alameda County
pursuant to AB 1185. 
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice on the number of deaths and lawsuits arising from the
sheriff’s operations in Alameda County underscore how critical it is to balance the office’s extensive
powers with effective and independent oversight.
We urge you to strengthen the ordinance initially proposed by County Counsel in the following
particular ways: 
1) Oversight should include both an Inspector General and an Oversight Board: 
Genuine accountability requires both the full-time professional oversight of an Inspector general and the
community input and attention the Oversight Board can provide. Both the Inspector General and the
Oversight Board should have subpoena powers to compel documents, records, and witness testimony
that may be necessary to perform full investigations in which you and the public can have confidence. 
2) Ordinance should provide for a Selection Panel: 
Best practices from cities and counties appointing oversight boards provide for a two-part selection
process and we strongly recommend that here as well. After each member of the BOS appoints a
member of the selection panel, the panel should engage in outreach to candidates with a broad range of
relevant experience and then recommend a slate of nominees from which you can appoint the Oversight

  1. Independent Legal Counsel is essential:
    Given that the County Counsel must represent the Sheriff’s Department, it is critical that the Oversight
    Board have its own counsel to avoid conflicts of interest in reality or in appearance. Voters in Oakland
    expressed their agreement with this principle when they recently voted to ensure that the Police
    Commission has independent counsel. 
    4) Adequate resources are critical: 
    There should be a dedicated funding stream that is commensurate with the costs of salaries,
    investigations, and community outreach.  Adequate funding, along with the measures of independence
    outlined above, is a key indicator of good faith and seriousness in addressing the history of deaths and
    5) Scope of oversight should be specified: 
    Clarity about the Oversight Board’s and the Inspector General’s scope of authority is important. 
    We support language in the ordinance to confirm that the Oversight Board and the Inspector General
    will have oversight responsibilities for monitoring the jail and as well as law enforcement operations.
    This would include conditions of confinement; the provision of health services in the jails; the use of
    force in custodial and law enforcement operations; compliance with civil rights laws; provision of
    services to inmates and the conduct of employees, contractors, volunteers, and others who provide such
    services; ACSO response and investigations into allegations of misconduct, ACSO disciplinary actions;
    the Sheriff’s function as  coroner; and compliance with state and county regulation of ICE.
    6) Be specific about the Oversight Board’s responsibilities for meetings, reports and community
    We urge that the responsibilities for Oversight Board’s public outreach be detailed as carefully as other
    provisions. This will assist candidates for the board understand the full scope of their responsibilities and
    also allow the public to know whether the Oversight Board is meeting its mandate.
    The Leagues support suggestions regarding two public meetings per month and rotation of meetings
    within the County or through video meetings, in order to provide access to all. The Leagues also support
    affirming Board verbal response to Public Comments at meetings, several public hearings per year and a
    requirement of a written annual report.
    Syeda R Inamdar
    Syeda Reshma Inamdar, Chair, Alameda County Council of the League of Women Voters

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