Council members reject calls for a study on police oversight
By André Coleman 10/03/2013
The Pasadena City Council will not be discussing anytime soon ideas to form a civilian board to oversee the workings of the local Police Department.
On Monday, a majority of council members said the board’s Public Safety Committee — comprised of Council members Steve Madison, Gene Masuda, John Kennedy and Jacque Robinson — already does that job.
“This issue has come up at least twice since I have been on council and the Public Safety Committee,” said District 4 Councilman Gene Masuda, who was elected in 2010. “My belief is we have four members of council who serve as the oversight committee. We are accountable and it is very transparent. We are voted in to represent our residents and we are residents of Pasadena. We don’t need another layer of residents to serve as oversight.”
Despite public support for more committee meetings, there was no support from either the council or the audience for Kennedy’s call to place the matter on a future agenda.
Kennedy’s calls for such a study comes on the heels of investigations by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Pasadena Police Department that ultimately cleared Officer Kevin Okamoto and Detectives Keith Gomez and William Broghamer of claims that they either individually or together attempted to influence witness testimony, inappropriately used an informant and failed to provide a copy of a search warrant when asked. Other claims against the officers included harassment, unlawful arrest, submission of a misleading police report and inappropriate recording a jailhouse conversation.
The department is also waiting for the results of a probe being conducted by the Office of Independent Review into the officer-involved shooting death of unarmed Kendrec McDade, 19, who was shot and killed by police officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen.
“I am concerned about tinkering with it,” said Victor Gordo. “In the end, it is the city manager who is directly responsible for the police chief. It is important to have an elected set of eyes. I am leery about injecting untrained eyes or appointees that are not directly accountable to the people who elected them or to the city council.”
The matter was sent to the council by Public Safety Committee Chair Robinson, despite objections by Masuda and Madison, who compared the efforts to bring it to council to the Republican Party’s efforts to block President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act.
“At some point, you have to move on,” Madison said.