SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Major developments came late Tuesday to create countywide policy changes related to policing reforms. After several hours of testimony and public comments, all three parts of a policy package were voted on and passed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors during a special meeting.
It was introduced by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher who said it was designed to create more transparency and to start to change systemic and structural racism that has caused pain and harm to generations of African American people.
The three proposals that passed include launching mobile crisis response teams made of social workers and clinicians instead of law enforcement for some mental health and homeless services and emergency calls, increasing independence and strengthening oversight of the Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board and establishing an Office of Equity and Racial Justice.
ABC10 News listened in as callers weighed in on both sides of the debate over the creation of an Office of Equity and Racial Justice. Many callers were in favor of its creation. Others argued that the County should consider a bolstered version brought forth by civil rights activist Rev. Shane Harris who recommended that the County increase the number of staffers assigned to the Office and increase its budget to $5 million.
The Board of Supervisors decided that the passed proposal for the Office of Equity and Racial Justice will need to be reviewed by an independent consultant and the Human Relations Commission will need to provide guidance on the Office’s mission.
Late Tuesday, the Office of Supervisor Nathan Fletcher sent ABC10 News the following statement:
“The Board of Supervisors today voted to support the entire Racial Justice and Law Enforcement Realignment Policy Package authored by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and crafted in partnership with respected leaders from the Black community. The three policies will strengthen the Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board Authority and Independence, create an Office of Equity and Racial Justice for the County of San Diego and launch countywide Mobile Crisis Response Teams (MCRT) to allow trained mental health clinicians, not law enforcement, to respond to non-violent service needs. The group released the following statement after the vote:
‘The community called for change, and today’s action is a step forward. Tackling deep seeded issues of systemic and structural racism is not going to be easy and at times it will be uncomfortable, but, we will be a better organization and a better people because of the actions we take to support racial justice and realigning law enforcement. We are thankful for the considerable community input we received to shape these policies and tremendous support that helped ensure their passage. The most important days of this work are in front of us and we look forward to a continued partnership with Black community leaders as we put these policies into practice.’”