Grand Jury To Look Into SDPD Oversight Board

Citizens' Review Board Accused Of Showing Favoritism To San Diego Police Officers

A recent 10News I-Team investigation that examined questionable practices inside a local citizens group has prompted a San Diego grand jury inquiry.

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"They are sent to dangerous situations, they didn't seek out those situations, they are there for us. Nobody wants to prosecute officers, everyone recognizes they have a tough job," said California Western School of Law professor Justin Brooks.

Brooks and Christian Ramirez of American Friends Service both acknowledged that police work is dangerous. However, both also agreed there are serious policing issues in San Diego.

"Members of our community who are victims of crime or witnesses of crime are afraid to come forward to the police," said Ramirez, whose nonprofit group advocating for minorities.

Both men spoke to 10News following an investigation earlier this year into the Citizens' Review Board, which reviews police actions. The board's own members -- past and present -- have told 10News while well-meaning, the board is ineffective and biased.

"Some of these officers have a feeling of immunity, about being held accountable," said former board member Jude Litzenberger.

10News learned even good police officers can get a bad rap from the board if they get on the wrong side of certain police managers.

"You think the board is unfair to officers?" asked I-Team reporter Mitch Blacher.

"It's unfair to officers and citizens," replied Sandra Cobet, a prospective member in training who resigned 11 months into that training because she felt the board was not impartial in its review of cases.

The allegations are the board's leadership is a "good ol' boys" club, siding with police management when it comes to cases involving either citizens or officers on the streets.

"It is absolutely critical we review the process and make sure those decisions are being made in an unbiased fashion," said Brooks.

Ramirez said the minorities he comes in contact with do not trust the board and have not for some time.

"We have experience with them. We know, unfortunately, it doesn't work; it acts as a rubber stamp for the police department," said Ramirez.

The direction the grand jury is going to take in its investigation is unknown, as 10News learned it will depend on the complexity of the case.

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