(KTXL) —Since the police killing of Sacramento native Tyre Nichols, there has been a renewed focus on violence and accountability in policing.
After the last major national conversation about police reform, Sacramento put a new watchdog in place. Since April 2021, Dwight White has been investigating incidents involving Sacramento Police.
White has been showing up to scenes where an officer shoots another person for nearly two years, yet he still finds himself in a unique position.
“I’m kind of the first person to ever disagree with a police officer’s decision,” Dwight White said.
The job itself is a first. In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police, the protests that brought Sacramento to a halt, and the efforts at reform that followed, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg added a new position to city staff in 2020, inspector general.
“We’re really building something here,” White said.
White, an attorney and licensed investigator from Chicago, says he has three main duties.
The first duty is reviewing complaints citizens make against the police. The allegations fall into nearly 20 categories ranging from rudeness to unjustified arrest and improper searches. In 2022, members of the public made 799 complaints against police according to the Office of Public Safety and Accountability.
White estimates he reviewed 85% of those complaints and compared his findings with Sacramento Police internal investigations of the same incidents.
“For the most part, we usually can agree on an outcome that is fair to the citizens but also beneficial to the police officer,” White said.
The second duty is special investigations and search and seizure audits.
This month, White plans to release an audit of police searches and seizures.
Accusations of 4th amendment violations make up 21% of complaints against Sacramento police in 2022, by far the most common complaint against the department in the last two years.
“Officer-involved shootings, the serious use of force allegations, and also the death in custody,” White said.
There have been nine of those incidents since White started.
White arrives on the scene and is supposed to receive access to the same evidence and reports as police investigators. He has completed summaries for three of the cases and is working with the director of the Office of Public Safety and Accountability to finalize those reports.
This brings a persistent predicament in the pursuit of public trust and timeliness. Investigations into most serious incidents regularly take well over a year in Sacramento. The inspector general’s reports cannot be made public until the police, the district attorney and the city manager have also completed their reviews.
White believes his role is helping to bring about the change some continue to demand.