SACRAMENTO — When wouldn’t Sacramento police like to be captured on video exchanging high-fives with kids in front of their elementary school?
It’s the kind of moment you can see on the department’s Facebook page.
But, more and more, often they’ve been seen doing things like taking a jaywalker down by the throat.
It’s one moment captured through a critical citizen lens, leading to calls for prosecution, better training and more transparency.
Nine months after the vote that created it , Sacramento’s new Community Police Review Commission took a big step forward when it comes to oversight — sitting down for its first meeting at city hall.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg offered advice to the 11-member group.
“Don’t be afraid to have hard conversations,” he said.
The police oversight issue has packed city hall chambers, but fewer than 10 people came to see the actual work of what they fought for get underway.
Lorreen Pryor was one of them.
“I love the diversity of the commission, however, I did notice all the folks that are charged with giving them extra information are from one specific demographic. I would like to see some officers of color, some representatives of color in the room,” she said.
New commissioner Eddie Escobar is optimistic.
“My goal is … has always been to have the heart of a servant. Whatever I can do to make Sacramento better,” said Escobar.
The new commission had its first day in action right along with the city’s new police chief.
“Anything that can help us have a great relationship with all segments of our community is a good thing,” said Chief Hahn, adding that he feels that’s definitely the goal of the commission.
This effort is the city’s third version of some kind of oversight commission — one that still doesn’t have the formal power to subpoena witnesses or discipline officers.
To some that means it’s still an ineffective body.
Steinberg says there are ways to get at the core of serious issues, by informally calling in people to testify.
“I don’t know that the commission can call for ‘Officer X,’ but the commission can call for police management to talk about protocols, to talk about practices,” he said.
What they learn through those speakers will form the basis for recommendations the commission will make to the mayor and the rest of city council for changes in policy at the police department.
Eight commissioners have been selected by current city council members, representing their individual districts.
Three have been appointed by the mayor.
They will serve four-year terms.