Police Review Blog

The Coalition for Police Review is an alliance dedicated to the implementation of genuine and effective police review processes for all law enforcement agencies operating in Humboldt County. It includes Redwood Chapter ACLU, Civil Liberties Monitoring Project, Human Rights Commission, Waterfront Greens and many more.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Public Forum: The Future Of Blue Lake Police Tuesday April 29th 6:30 p.m.

Due to overwhelming public comment on the future of the police department, a public meeting will be held on April 29 at Mad River Grange at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the issue. The meeting is hosted by the Blue Lake City Council: 668-5655 for more information.

Friday, April 11, 2008

CPR Meeting Wednesday May 14th 5:30 p.m.

The Coalition for Police Review (CPR) will meet Wednesday May 14th at 5:30 p.m. at the Activist Resource Center (917 3rd Street) to explore methods of getting genuine, empowered police review processes implemented, by either the newly elected City Councils in Arcata, Eureka and Blue Lake, or by ballot initiatives in these respective cities. We are also interested in establishing review for county-level law enforcement agencies such as the Sheriff's Department and Probation Office.

Friday, March 28, 2008

HRC FORUM: Police Review In Humboldt County Thursday April 10th 7pm

The Humboldt County Human Rights Commission is holding a Public Forum on the future of Police Review in Humboldt County on Thursday, April 10th at 7:00 p.m. in the Supervisors' Chamber of the Humboldt County Courthouse, 525 5th Street, Eureka. The forum will be moderated by the Humboldt County League of Women Voters and will feature time for public comment as well as presentations from law enforcement officals, police accountability experts and civil rights leaders both local and from across Northern California, including:

Bob Aaronson, Independent Police Ombudsman, City of Davis

Christina Allbright, Chair, Redwood Chapter of the ACLU and Spokesperson, Coalition for Police Review

Barbara Attard, Independent Police Auditor, City of San Jose

Kay Howden, Police Officer, City of Eureka

Garr Nielsen, Chief of Police, City of Eureka

Gary Phillip, Sheriff of Humboldt County

Monday, March 24, 2008

CPR FORUM: Does Arcata Need A SWAT Team? Thurs. Mar. 27th 6-8pm

Does Arcata Need A SWAT Team?


Monday, March 24, 2008

Does Arcata Need A SWAT Team?

This question and more will be explored at an upcoming forum in Arcata, whose police chief has previously stated he thought it was a "good idea" for a county-wide SWAT Team to operate in Arcata and throughout Humboldt County.

While the event's sponsors are not necessarily against a SWAT Team, questions of use-of-force policies, weapons procurement and conditions under which such a team would be deployed remain unanswered, especially in light of the deployment of a county-wide team of officers who broke up a pro-homeless protest in Arcata last year.

The forum will also discuss the upcoming November election, in which activists hope to see an Arcata Police Review Act on the ballot, which would create an independent civilian review board for the Arcata Police Department.

The forum, sponsored by the Redwood Chapter ACLU and the Coalition for Police Review, will include speakers and plenty of time for open comment and discussion for local residents. It will be held on Thursday, March 27, 6 p.m. at the Arcata Branch Library, at the corner of 7th and F Street behind Arcata City Hall.

For more information, call CPR spokespersons Greg Allen or Christina Allbright, or visit redwoodaclu.blogspot.com or coalitionforpolicereview.info.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Police Review: The Time To Act Is NOW

After numerous police slayings and other acts of brutality and excessive force, Humboldt County residents are coming together to get police review implemented (not just discussed) in their communities.

To this end, the Coalition for Police Review is now raising money to file police review initiatives in Eureka and Arcata, as well as working with Blue Lake residents to get their City Council to implement independent civilian review of their respective law enforcement agencies.

Some might ask, why aren’t we trying to get the City Councilmembers in Eureka and Arcata to do this without the effort of a ballot initiative campaign? Well, CPR did, and four years later, there’s been no substantive action to reign in the abusive activities several officers from each agency continue to exhibit. In Arcata, police review is only supported by one of the currently serving Councilmembers, despite repeated incidents of physical brutality especially targeted against students and homeless people, including the tasering of a comatose man in an alley behind the Plaza. In Eureka, the well-publicized slayings of several men and women over the last three years (which have given the city the dubious honor of the highest rate of police slayings per person in California) continue to be defended by lame justifications by the new police chief, whose new administration bears many hallmarks of the scandal-ridden one which he replaced. In both cases, elected officials have demonstrated paralysis, blame-shifting and a general lack of concern for the well-being of their constituents.

While the City Council in Blue Lake, given the unprecedented level of disrepute their police department has sunk to, is showing interest in civilian review, this is not the case in Arcata or Eureka. Those governments have not acted, despite these outrages, and clearly will not act without an act of the people to make accountability a reality for EPD and APD. That’s why the police review initiatives, which have been exhaustively researched, rewritten and vetted for legality, are ready to roll out in front of voters.

But that’s where CPR supporters are needed, and needed now. We need to raise the $200 filing fee for both the Arcata and the Eureka proposals this week. Thus far, thanks to three generous donations, we are $71 closer to that goal for Eureka – but $129 more for Eureka is needed, as well as the full $200 for Arcata. Any amount to help achieve this goal is vitally needed, and needed now. Please drop your cash donations by the Coalition for Police Review office at 917 3rd Street, Eureka (shared with the Redwood ACLU) as soon as you can.

Monday, November 19, 2007

PRESS RELEASE: CPR Praises SWAT Dissolution, Calls For Greater Disclosure Regarding Public Safety Committee

Monday, November 19, 2007

For Immediate Release

CPR Praises SWAT Dissolution, Calls For Greater Disclosure Regarding Public Safety Committee

At their regular monthly gathering, the Coalition for Police Review took the opportunity to both praise recent moves by Eureka'’s new Police Chief, Garr Nielsen, as well as taking his bosses in City Hall to task over the lack of public disclosure as to whether the proposed Eureka Public Safety Committee will include the review functions previously promised to CPR spokespersons
over a year ago.

"“It’'s certainly a welcome move on the part of Nielsen to dispense with the SWAT Team in favor of more community-oriented approaches to local police work,”" said CPR Spokesperson Christina Allbright. "“Nationwide, SWAT Teams have again and again resulted in the needless escalation in levels of police violence, and considering the recent record of police-related deaths in Eureka, this is a well-timed decision on the part of the Eureka Police Department.”"

CPR also praised Nielsen’'s revision of the cover letter given to members of the public who express interest in filing a complaint against an EPD officers' conduct, with the threat of prosecution against “false reports” now replaced with additional resources which citizens can turn to if they are dissatisfied with the department’s response to their report. Additionally, CPR now provides complaint forms on the CPR website at coalitionforpolicereview.info to alleviate the concerns and fears some members of the public have expressed with obtaining and/or completing complaint forms at the EPD headquarters.

"“We'’ve received numerous reports of local residents who not only felt intimidated from filing a complaint in the first place, but also from those who didn'’t feel safe when they were told they had to actually walk into EPD headquarters to file their complaint,”" Allbright said. “"There is no law or precedent which says people have to file their complaints in person, and until Nielsen follows through on making this a more user-friendly process, the Coalition for Police Review will take the initiative to make these forms available to all community members on our website and at our office.”"

Of more grave concern to CPR members is the perception of manipulation and back-room dealing concerning the proposed Public Safety Committee for Eureka. The Coalition has received reports that the charter of the proposed committee will specifically exclude any police review functions concerning the policies, practices and procedures of the EPD, not to mention any review of specific complaints regarding officer conduct. Unconfirmed reports from members of the ad-hoc committee have alleged that their recommendations were altered after-the-fact by city officials, and that one member of the ad-hoc committee resigned in protest due to their frustration over such actions.

“"When we met with City Manager Dave Tyson back in the summer of 2006 when our initial Police Review Act was in circulation in Eureka, he promised us that the City would take concerted action to implement police review, and we've since heard similar promises from Councilmembers Glass, Kerrigan and Endert,"” CPR Spokesperson Greg Allen said. “"To see these pledges of support made false through a convoluted ad-hoc committee which completely excluded any members of our Coalition is a grave disappointment. We need full disclosure of what happened during and after these ad-hoc committee meetings, and we insist that city officials not misuse their authority to frustrate the same review procedures which Police Chief Nielsen has already expressed willingness to work with.”"

CPR is looking forward to the Open Mic on local law enforcement tentatively set for Dec. 4th at 5:00 p.m. in Supervisors’ Chambers, and will hold its next meeting on Dec. 12th, 5:30 p.m. at their shared office with the Redwood ACLU, located at 917 3rd Street in Old Town Eureka.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Open Mic on Local Law Enforcement: Tuesday December 4th at 5:00 p.m., Hum. Co. Courthouse

The Humboldt County Human Rights Commission is sponsoring an Open Mic on Local Law Enforcement issues, to be held Tuesday, December 4th at 5:00 p.m. in the Supervisors' Chambers of the Humboldt County Courthouse. Presentations from the HRC, local law enforcement and the Redwood Chapter of the ACLU will be followed by open public comment for interested community members to voice their concerns.

Public Endorsements of Police Review

Public Endorsements
of the Police Review initiatives

84 individuals as of

Noel Adamson, Eureka
Christina Allbright, Eureka
Greg Allen, Arcata
Sebastian Bach, Eureka
Laura Benedict, Eureka
Dave Berman, Eureka
Paul Billups, Arcata
Richard Botzler, McKinleyville
Scott Brogan, Eureka
Mike Buettner, Eureka
Margorie Burgess, Eureka
Monty Caid, Eureka
Heidi Calton, Eureka
Terry Lee Clark, Arcata
John Conway, Arcata
Karen Croft, Eureka
Stephen Davies, Eureka
Wendy Davison, Eureka
Martha Devine, Arcata
Lou Dickinson, Eureka
Paul Dillon, Eureka
Robin Donald, Eureka
Paul Encimer, Piercy
Angelsea Everson, Eureka
Andrew Faueh, Arcata
Ellen Feighny, Arcata
Greg Geist, Eureka
David Giarrizzo, Eureka
Sarah Hamilton, Eureka
Martha Hart, Eureka
Eric Heimstadt, Eureka
Roger Herick, McKinleyville
Tracy Herrin, Eureka
Maria Hershey, Eureka
Derek Hilson, Arcata
Elaine Hogan, Arcata
Donald Holt, Eureka
Bob Huck, Eureka
James Karr, Eureka
Eric V. Kirk, Redway
Mark Konkler, Pine Hill
Michael Kirsche, Eureka
Pat LaCasse, Eureka
Kelly Lincoln, Eureka
Barbara Mahan, Eureka
Frank Mancinelli, Eureka
Xandra Manns, Eureka
Taunya Marcee, Eureka
Peter Martin, Trinidad
Noah Matthews, Arcata
Brian McCaughey, Arcata
Gillian McIntosh, Eureka
Heather Mehl, Arcata
Allyson Miller, Eureka
Larry Miller, Fortuna
Marcus Millwee, Arcata
Lucy Moerner, Eureka
Paul Moses, Rio Dell
Jack Munsee, McKinleyville
James Nolan, Eureka
Bruce Ogata, Fortuna
Larry Ogden, Shelter Cove
Richard Parker, Seely Creek
Ned Peck, Arcata
Leo Power, Redway
Cole Riding, Eureka
Jamie Rose, Eureka
Dean C. Ruld, Eureka
Nebi Sanderson, Eureka
Paul Sanderson, Eureka
Jack Shaffer, McKinleyville
Kara Simpson, Eureka
Sarah Elizabeth Solomon, Carlotta
Marshall Spalding, Eureka
Kim Starr, Eureka
James L. Stratton, Eureka
Dawn Tatom, Fairhaven
Stevo Vidnovic, Eureka
Christine Walden, Eureka
Shunka Wakan, Arcata
Royce Wofford, Arcata
Minerva Williams, Eureka
Beorn Zepp, Arcata Bottoms
Kat Zimmerman, Arcata

10 organizations as of
American Civil Liberties Union, Redwood Chapter
Arcata Greens
Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Green Party of Humboldt County

Humboldt Buddhist Fellowship
Humboldt County Human Rights Commission
Humboldt Revolution
People Project
Redwood Curtain Copwatch
Redwood Sunshine
Waterfront Greens

1 newspaper as of 11/16/07
Humboldt Sentinel

Friday, August 17, 2007

Eureka: Turn Out And Speak Out Next Tuesday!

CPR members and supporters are encouraged to attend the next Eureka City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 21st at 6:30 p.m. on the 2nd floor of Eureka City Hall.

At Thursday night's police-called town hall meeting at OH's Steakhouse, EPD chief Garr Nielsen said he would be willing to work with a police review committee for Eureka. This means it's only our City Council standing in the way of this reform being implemented NOW here in Eureka!

Public comment is near the top of every Eureka City Council meeting so come out and make your voice heard. Many are already expected to attend after the recent death of Martin Cotton after an incident involving several Eureka police officers.

To know more, please visit www.coalitionforpolicereview.info or call (707) 215-5385,

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Forum on Police Review in Eureka

February 27th, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Eureka Women's Club
16th and J Street, Eureka

The Forum on Police Review in Eureka is
Sponsored by the Coalition for Police Review (CPR)
which includes the Redwood Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project, the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission, the Waterfront Greens and many concerned citizens.

Keynote Speaker:
Barbara Attard
Past President,
National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Encorcement (NACOLE)

Barbara Attard is the San Jose Independent Police auditor, and the previous director of the Berkeley Police Review Commission, one of the oldest civilian oversight agencies in the United States. Ms. Attard began her career in civilian oversight with the San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints in 1983 as one of the first investigators hired for the newly founded agency. She
has been active in international and national associations of civilian oversight for over twenty years, and has championed the use of mediation in police misconduct cases and authored an article, “In Praise of Mediation.” While at the OCC, she developed an "Early Warning System" for detecting and counseling San Francisco police officers whose citizen complaint records indicated possible problematic behavior patterns.

Ms. Attard earned her Masters Degree in Public Administration at the University of San Francisco. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and Social Science from Humboldt State University in northern California.

Featured Speaker:
Mark Schlosberg
Police Practices Policy Director,
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
of Northern California

Mark Schlosberg has worked on a variety of policing issues including racial profiling, accountability systems, surveillance, crowd management, and use of force. He was on the legal team that reached a landmark racial profiling settlement agreement with the California Highway Patrol, managed the successful 2003 ballot campaign to strengthen the San Francisco oversight system, and has authored several reports on policing issues, most recently The State of Surveillance: Government Monitoring of Political Activity in Northern and Central California. Prior to working at the ACLU of Northern California, Schlosberg worked as a deputy public defender at the Contra Costa Public Defender Office and was Vice Chair of the Berkeley Police Review Commission.

Schlosberg received his law degree from New York University School of Law.

The CPR forum will be moderated by Christina Allbright and Greg Allen, and will include your questions for the speakers and a public dialogue on how best to achieve police review in our community.

For more information, visit our office at 917 Third Street, Suite Q, or call 215-5385, or check out our new website, coalitionforpolicereview.info.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Religious group calls for police review

News Article by James Faulk

EUREKA -- The Humboldt Buddhist Peace Fellowship is sending a letter to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Eureka City Council asking for a police review board.

The letter became public after the fourth police-involved shooting in the past eight months occurred Thursday, but the letter was written before the most recent shooting.

”The members of the Humboldt Area Chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship are alarmed and disturbed by the three fatal shootings in the past eight months by officers of the Eureka police, and by the behavior of members of other law enforcement agencies in Humboldt County,” said the letter.

The letter states that data from Bureau of Justice Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, indicate that Humboldt County should have roughly one police-involved shooting every three to four years.

”We've had three in eight months,” said the letter.

”We believe it is urgent that civilian institutions with substantial powers of investigation be created and assigned the task of reviewing the behavior of law enforcement officers in Eureka and throughout Humboldt County,” it reads. “We would like to see a civilian police review board be created by the county and/or the city, and provided with subpoena powers.”

If officials at the county or city fail to take action, the group says, it will take the case to the Grand Jury.

”While we commend law enforcement officers for the protection they provide us all under sometimes difficult conditions, we still believe civilian review is imperative. We must all take responsibility for the manner in which our government enforces laws.”

Mitch Trachtenberg, a member of the group, said the calls for police review are not an attack on police.

”Law enforcement is the responsibility of everyone,” he said. “When the police are behaving appropriately, there's no problem with civilian oversight. If someone is worried about police review, then perhaps they're behaving inappropriately.”

Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham said he doesn't see a need for a police review board. “We do a pretty good job of policing ourselves,” Harpham said.

He said the last three people fired from the department were fired for things discovered from internal investigations, not from a citizen's

”We see a problem, we take care of it,” Harpham said.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bring Police Review to New City Councils in Arcata and Eureka!

CPR urges all supporters of Police Review in Arcata and Eureka to speak out as their new City Council representatives take their seats.

CPR members will appear at the first Eureka City Council meeting of next month, on Tuesday, December 5th, 6:30 p.m. at Eureka City Hall (6th and L Street).

CPR members will also appear at the special Arcata City Council meeting where the new Mayor will be chosen, on Tuesday, December 12th, 12:00 p.m. at Arcata City Hall (7th and F Street).

Fact sheets and talking points will be made available at our next CPR meeting on Tuesday, December 5th, 5:30 p.m. at our joint office with the ACLU (917 3rd Street, between J and K).

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Angry citizens demand police review board

200 gather at special council meeting

News Article by Chris Durant

EUREKA -- Calls for a police review board accelerated Monday as about 200 jammed the City Council chambers and the hall outside during a special meeting where Police Chief Dave Douglas briefed the council about the shooting death of Christopher Burgess.

One week after Burgess, 16, was shot twice by Officer Terry Liles in a gully off the 2200 block of Chester Street, Mayor Peter LaVallee called the special session to “open up dialogue” in the community. However, no dialogue was allowed by LaVallee, even though more than 40 members of the public trooped to the microphone -- some angrily, some with sadness -- to share community trauma over the incident.

On several occasions, the audience applauded statements by speakers, and was admonished by LaVallee for doing so.

The emotional two-hour meeting came amid other developments:

* Over the weekend, two walls of Washington School had anti-police graffiti sprayed on them. The school, across the street from where the shooting occurred, was locked down during the incident. One person, who did not want to give a name, said the paint said, “EPD = teror.” Lee Ann Lanning, the school's principal, said the vandalism happened sometime between Saturday afternoon and early Sunday, and was painted over Sunday morning.

* Eureka City Councilmember Virginia Bass, a candidate for mayor in the Nov. 7 election, announced that she plans on hosting a public forum on “use of force” policies of the Eureka Police Department. A date and time for the forum will be scheduled after Bass talks with law enforcement and community members.

Douglas began his report by asking people to pray for everyone involved. “The prayers, the thoughts and the support hurt none of us,” he said.

The chief said the investigation will take time and some evidence may not come to light for days, weeks and in some cases months. He also pleaded with the public to help find three witnesses, Charles Ray Nelson, Allen Chambers and Janice Chambers, whom investigators are looking for.

He said the Critical Incident Response Team investigating the incident is “pleased with the rapid progress.”

The only new information Douglas provided in the report was that during the confrontation with Liles in the gully, Burgess said, “I don't want to go,” and then moved toward the officer as if he were going to stab him.

”The distance went from 6 feet to 4 feet,” Douglas said.

About halfway through his report, Douglas turned his attention from talking to the council, to talking to the crowd. He also defended his officer.

”It is not necessary for an officer to be shot or stabbed before they defend themselves,” Douglas said.

He also pleaded with the community to refrain from rumors and speculation.

Margorie Burgess, Burgess' mother, was the second to speak. “I'm scared for the children in this county,” she said.

She talked about her decision to call authorities when Burgess was younger and she was having trouble with him.

”This is what happened because I didn't know how to do it right,” Margorie Burgess said. “And I called for help.”

Some speakers defended the police at the same time they criticized them.

”We do have a lot of fine police officers in this town,” one speaker said. “It's a tragedy, in my opinion. What happened to Christopher was cold-blooded murder and reeks of cover-up.”

Some echoed Douglas' calls for not taking part in speculation and rumors. One speaker said the “system” sets police up for failure.

”It takes six months to become a police officer,” the speaker said, “when it takes four to six years to be a lawyer.”

He also said police targets for shooting practice only have the heads and the torso.

But a reoccurring topic among a lot of speakers was the need for a police review board.

”I wish we had a review board,” said Christina Allbright. “I wish that we had a review board last year. I wish we had a review board 10 years ago.”

”I don't believe that the fox should investigate why the hen house got raided,” another speaker said. “That invites corruption.”

Another speaker talked of his efforts in the past to get a police review board. “I'm here six months later, I hope I'm not here six months from now,” the speaker said.

Some demanded Liles be fired and prosecuted. “No more paid vacations for killer cops,” one speaker said. Another added: “I think he should be tried as a murderer.”

One man, who said he's worked with children and teens in trouble, called for police to have more options when dealing with a similar situation.

”I've had a knife pulled on me, I've had baseball bats pulled on me, and those kids aren't dead,” the man said. “From what I understand, there was no crisis until police created it.”

Thursday, October 26, 2006

PRESS RELEASE: CPR Supports Family's Call For Independent Review of EPD

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Attention: For Immediate Release

CPR Supports Family's Call For Independent Review of EPD

The Coalition for Police Review (CPR) at their meeting on Thursday expressed their condolences to the family of Christopher Burgess, who was slain by an officer of the Eureka Police Department three days prior, and called for the implementation of changed standards and the immediate creation of a Police Review Commission for Eureka.

CPR is holding a press conference in coordination with the Burgess family at Noon on Friday, October 27 on the steps of the Humboldt County Courthouse, 824 Fifth Street in Eureka.

“We encourage the Eureka City Council, and in fact all local governments in Humboldt County, to quit stalling and get real, independent police review commissions in place for all regional law enforcement agencies,” CPR member Christina Allbright said. “It’s important that this issue be addressed by the candidates for Arcata, Eureka and county offices.”

CPR approached government officials in Eureka over six months ago with their police review proposal, which thus far has not been implemented nor placed on the agenda of a City Council meeting, although an ad-hoc public safety committee was formed to look at some related issues. At present this ad-hoc committee does not include any CPR members.

“We’re encouraged by the support expressed for police review by Eureka Mayor Peter LaVallee and from Arcata City Council candidates Michael Winkler and Jeffrey Schwartz, and we’d like to see all the candidates come out with their real views on this subject so vital to public safety,” CPR member Tracy Herrin said. “We reject out of hand the notion that internal affairs alone can conduct an independent investigation of themselves. We don’t believe a committee of retired officers provides a standard of impartiality required for an independent review of their former colleagues. Logically speaking, even law enforcement agencies should see the benefit of civilian review.”

In addition to these needed commissions, CPR will also detail proposals to improve training standards at the police academy, including sensitivity training, as well as to implement more specific and restrained “use of force” standards for EPD along with greater openness to community concerns.

“Officers aren't above the law and officers should be prosecuted if they've committed criminal acts,” Allbright said. “No public servant should have some special immunity from the law, and perhaps the department needs to look at their policy of placing people on leave regarding such incidents.”

Pictures of the injuries sustained in a previous encounter between Christopher Burgess and the EPD officer in question will be made available at the press conference, according to Margorie ‘Marty’ Burgess, the mother of the slain boy.

“The officer had no right to kill my son,” Marty Burgess said. “I don’t want to see this happen to any other teenagers in this situation.”

Members of the public and local organizations are encouraged to make public their endorsement of police review by signing the on-line petition at policereview.blogspot.com. Citizens will also have the opportunity to make their endorsement known with written petitions, which will be available at the special Eureka City Council meeting on Monday, October 30 at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall.

For more information, contact the Coalition for Police Review at 215-5385 or visit policereview.blogspot.com. All CPR meetings are open to members of the public, with the next one scheduled for Wednesday, November 1 at 6:00 p.m. at their joint office with the Redwood Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is located at 917 Third Street, Suite Q in Eureka.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Can police review commission work here? -- Times-Standard Editorial

Can police review commission work here?

Proponents are circulating the idea of a police review commission. While it's too soon to make a final determination, serious consideration should be given to whether the idea has merit.

There had been calls for such a commission before the tragic shooting of Cheri Lyn Moore last month. But the shooting -- in which Moore, wielding a flare gun, was killed by a SWAT team -- has added to the urgency of open and full discussions on the possibility.

The Coalition for Police Review is proposing the formation of a police review commission in Eureka to investigate complaints made against the police department, review policies and procedures, make determinations about complaints and report to the City Council.

South of us, the Berkeley Police Review Commission investigates complaints of misconduct against Berkeley police officers. The nine commissioners live in Berkeley and are appointed by the City Council.

In Portland, Ore., the Independent Police Review Division and the nine-member Citizen Review Committee were created to help improve police accountability, promote higher standards of police services and increase public confidence.

In Pittsburgh, the Citizen Police Review Board is an independent agency set up to investigate citizen complaints about improper police conduct. It is made up of seven unpaid board members appointed by the City Council and mayor.

Citizen involvement of this sort can be a good way to ensure checks and balances, transparency and accountability. Discussions should continue on whether the idea would work for Eureka.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Eye’s divisive, disrespectful disinformation campaign -- Letter to the Editor

The Eye's divisive, disrespectful disinformation campaign

Letter to the Editor

Arcata Eye

The shameful campaign of disinformation from the Arcata Eye against our Coalition for Police Review campaign for citizen oversight of law enforcement must be exposed.

Legal opinions repeatedly cited without correction in your news articles are out of line with the case law on general law cities and police review. In fact the opinion of the Attorney General’s office, on record since 1998, clearly states:

“The constitutional provisions and statutes cited, including Government Code § 34004, would appear to provide ample authority for the electorate or legislative body of a California city (including general law cities) to provide in the city charter or by city ordinance that…a citizens’ review board has authority to investigate citizens’ complaints against police officers…”

Your allegations against Greg Allen for misconduct in the submission of our filing fee and proof of publication of our notice of intent to circulate in Arcata are also false and malicious. We have proof in writing of the filing of our initiative on the date we indicated at our press conference in March, and we also have the copy of the Times-Standard issue of Sunday, April 9 where our notice of intent was published. Your ignorance in this matter is entirely due to your failure to effectively communicate with any members of CPR.

The suppositions printed by your publication from Michael Smith are completely baseless and reveal the further unawareness of someone who never attended a CPR function. We also object to the lack of opportunity for us to rebut him, unlike the sneak preview you gave Michael Smith to the statement from Greg Allen, in complete contradiction of any semblance of fair play.

We want the Arcata City Council to take action. While we deeply appreciate the votes in favor of pursuing a police review ordinance last year from Councilmembers Dave Meserve and Paul Pitino, we are concerned about the “recusal” of Harmony Groves. One local paper has already called her action a “false recusal” when she left the room because an uninvited employer had given her prior knowledge that he would address the Council, which is certainly no grounds for any perceived or actual conflict of interest. A police review ordinance is inherently designed to address all complaints fairly, but since it wouldn’t be looking at any incidents prior to its formation, it would be literally impossible for a 2007 Police Review Commission to hear a 2005 complaint from a woman represented by a man who Groves happens to have a financial relationship with.

We can only express the greatest offense at the use of our names, both of which were even misspelled, by Michael Smith to advance his agenda to destroy Greg Allen and disrupt the work of CPR. We are not interested in being misused and we are certainly unwilling to be cast in a false light to perpetuate a hateful mythology which the Arcata Eye seems eager to adopt as gospel.

The real truth is we wouldn’t be where we are today, with initiatives filed, published and going into circulation in Arcata and Eureka for police review if it wasn’t for the hard work and tireless devotion of Greg Allen, who wrote these initiatives and has been steadfast on this issue for several years. We all have different strengths and weaknesses but we stand united in our efforts for police review.

We do not operate on the basis of tearing each other down to grab power. CPR works together as a collective of members from the Green Party, the ACLU, the Human Rights Commission and the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project. We know that our strength is found in the unity we share, based on the values implicit to police review: Accountability, responsibility, transparency, democracy. These are the values we have observed practiced by every member of CPR, including Greg Allen.

Four days passed since the brutal slaying of Cheri Moore but the time of mourning was brief indeed for these consistent critics of citizen oversight. Apparently no sense of urgency or humanity has entered into their calculations as they are content to tear down Greg Allen and police review, even if it means we wait years more, if ever, to actually do something real and lasting to make sure her death was not in vain. Do Michael Smith and the Arcata Eye truly feel no shame?

Xandra Manns

Christina Allbright

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Animal control could have done a better job -- Letter to the Editor

Animal control could have done a better job

Letter to the Editor
Eureka Reporter

A couple of things came to mind when I heard about the shooting of Cheri Moore. First, why wasn’t tear gas or some other non-lethal weapon used?

We treat rabid animals better than we treated this poor woman. A park ranger can drop a bear with a tranquilizer dart, yet in our progressive society we treated the poorest and sickest worse then we treat animals.

Beside the fact that if Cheri came from a family with money she would have been treated differently, as I’ve seen in the past, old boys with guns don’t even get charges pressed by the EPD.

On top of all that, it was Good Friday right before Easter, the same day an ancient SWAT team killed another person whom that society proclaimed a mentally ill homeless man.

As Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew. 25:40

We need a citizens’ police review board.

Eric Heimstadt

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Poster Children for Police Review -- Humboldt Sentinel Editorial

Poster Children for Police Review

College kids on bikes bring out the immaturity of the EPD and its misguided courtship of the CHP


Humboldt Sentinel

The apparent mishandling of the ‘security’ for this week’s anti-war protests in Arcata and Eureka was no accident. Protestors were clearly doing a better job of regulating their own free expression than peace officers were, especially with the unnecessary roadblocks, overdeployment and use of inappropriate levels of force. Somehow it’s difficult to imagine police handing out so many jaywalking tickets at a comparably-sized pro-war demonstration.

Clearly a group of 40 or so bicyclists mostly consisting of Humboldt State students looking to express their independence from oil dependency and its consequent affects on national security presented such a threat to the Eureka Police Department, the California Highway Patrol and federal authorities as to engender scenes reminiscent of Seattle’s crackdown on dissent in 1999 during the World Trade Organization conference.

A safe corridor for forms of transportation outside the automobile still doesn’t exist between Arcata and Eureka. We hope even apologists for such conduct will agree with the need for viable alternatives such as a restored rail-and-trail route.

Federal representatives must be held accountable for their response to these incidents, especially given the constant concessions of supposedly progressive Democrats like Congressman Thomspon and Senator Feinstein, for taxpayer dollars were surely wasted that day in protecting the ‘homeland’ from its own. Likewise, our voices in Sacramento may be considered by many lame ducks, but this shouldn’t block a fair assessment of concerns regarding the behavior of state troopers.

It is locally where this controversy will have the most lasting impact in providing poster children for implementing police review. Whether the Critical Mass participants or the police will end up looking the most mature will depend on how much distortion of these events the public is willing to accept from their government and media. At least in Eureka, false arguments regarding the impossibility of general law cities creating such boards are mute in this unique example of charter government in Humboldt County.

The Humboldt Sentinel stands behind civilian control of the armed forces, whether in regards to our military, state troopers or local peacekeepers. Police review is clearly overdue in Humboldt County.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006



Police officers are public employees faced with the difficult task of enforcing the law. Of necessity police officers are invested with a great deal of discretion in the performance of their duties. In performing their duties, police officers must obey scrupulously the laws they enforce. Since police officers are often in confrontative situations and violence is a frequent component, the job they do is as a matter of definition is likely to cause questions about the conduct of the police.

While most police departments have a system of internal review, the problem is obvious. A police department is investigating itself.

It is simply unreasonable in logic to expect any one to impartially investigate themselves, their friends or their colleagues.

Civilian police review is the way to monitor the conduct of police officers in the community they police.

As per the ordinance, the Police Review Commission as envisioned would have the power the investigate complaints, review police tactics and policies and report to the city council.

Citizens would have the right and the vehicle to investigate claims of police misconduct, improper tactics, or improper policies. Police officers would have a forum to show that their actions, tactics, or departmental policies are appropriate.

By having a forum to air complaints regarding the local police, it is probable that less claims under the Government Tort Claims Act will be filed against the local police agency.

Independent Police Review makes it possible for the police and the community to get on the same page and work together towards better policing of the community.

Police review stands for openness, accountability, and transparency in policing our community. It does not suggest impropriety on the part of our local police agencies. It is unequivocal that no one, least of all one in the public sector, can, or should, be required, entrusted, or allowed to investigate themselves.

Arcata Police Review Act of 2006

The people of the City of Arcata do ordain as follows:


SECTION 1. Title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as “The Arcata Police Review Act of 2006.” This Act may also be cited as the “Act.”

SECTION 2. Findings and Declarations.

The people of the City of Arcata find and declare the following:

(A) The people of the State of California are protected in their inalienable rights by the provisions of the Constitutions of the United States and the State of California.

(B) The people of the City of Arcata reserve to themselves the right to set and review Police Department policies, practices and procedures and to provide a means for prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against the Arcata Police Department.

(C) The Public Safety Element, codified in Chapter 6 of Arcata General Plan 2020, created the requirement concerning the establishment of a police review commission to provide a means for independent, prompt, and impartial investigation and mediation of complaints brought against the Arcata Police Department, and to set and review law enforcement policies, practices, and procedures.

(D) To date, the Arcata City Council has taken no action to implement the provisions of Policy PS-7d of the Arcata General Plan 2020.

(E) A Police Review Commission will facilitate improved communication and cooperation between the people of the City of Arcata and the Arcata Police Department.

(F) The people of the State of California reserve to themselves the right to enact municipal ordinances by direct affirmative vote in a regular or special election under, and within Division 9, Chapter 3 of the Elections Code.

SECTION 3. Purpose and Intent.

The people of the City of Arcata hereby enact “The Arcata Police Review Act of 2006” to provide for the establishment, powers, duties, composition and procedures of a Police Review Commission, to provide for community participation in reviewing Police Department policies, practices and procedures and to provide a means for prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against the Arcata Police Department.

SECTION 4. Article 15 is added to Title II, Chapter 3 of the Arcata Municipal Code to read:


SEC. 2270. Purpose.

The general purpose of this article is to provide for community participation in setting and reviewing Police Department policies, practices and procedures and to provide a means for prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against the Arcata Police Department.

SEC. 2271. Establishment. Number of members. Appointment procedure.

There is established a Police Review Commission of the City of Arcata. Said commission shall consist of seven (7) members. Four (4) members shall be determined by lot from the group of applicants who are part of at least one of the following constituencies: Low income, racial minority, sexual minority, college student, disabled. Council shall then appoint three (3) additional at-large members to the commission, attempting to include any unrepresented constituencies. All members shall be residents of the City of Arcata. No officer or employee of the City shall be appointed to the commission. No former police officer serving in the Arcata Police Department shall be appointed to the commission.

SEC. 2272. Term of Office. Term Limitation. Filling of Vacancies.

The term of each member shall be two years commencing on January 1 of each odd numbered year and ending on December 31 of each succeeding even numbered year. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms. Any vacancy occurring during the term of any member shall be filled by an appointment by the Council.

SEC. 2273. Appointment Terminated Automatically When. Temporary Vacancies. Procedures. Removal.

The appointment of any member of the commission who has been absent and not excused from three consecutive regular or special meetings shall automatically expired effective on the date the fact of such absence is reported by the commission to the City Clerk. The City Clerk shall notify any member whose appointment has automatically terminated and report to the City Council that a vacancy exists on the commission and that an appointment should be made for the length of the unexpired term. A member of the commission may be granted a leave of absence not to exceed three months, and a temporary vacancy shall thereupon exist for the period of such leave of absence. During the period of such temporary vacancy, the Council may fill such a vacancy by a temporary appointment to said commission; provided, however, that the period of such temporary appointment shall not exceed the period of the temporary vacancy. At the expiration of a leave of absence so granted, the member shall automatically resume full and permanent membership on said commission. Any member of the commission may be removed by a unanimous vote of the Council.

SEC. 2274. Officers. Succession of Officers.

The commission shall elect one of its members as Chairperson and one as Vice-Chairperson, who shall each hold office for one year and until their successors are elected. No officer shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself in the same office. Officers shall be elected no later than the second meeting of the commission following its appointment.

SEC. 2275. Secretary.

The City Manager or his/her designee shall serve as the Secretary to the Police Review Commission. The Secretary shall not be a member of the Police Review Commission.

SEC. 2276. Meetings.

A. The commission shall establish a regular time and place of meeting and shall meet regularly at least once every month or more frequently as workload requires. The regular place of meeting shall be in an appropriate central location in the City capable of accommodating at least fifty people, but shall not be held in the building in which the Police Department is located. At least once every three months, or more frequently if the commission desires, the commission may meet in other places and locations throughout the City for the purpose of encouraging interest and facilitating attendance by people in the various neighborhoods in the City at the meetings.

B. Special meetings may be called by the Chairperson or by two members of the commission, upon personal notice being given to all members or written notice being mailed to each member and received at least thirty-six hours prior to such meetings, unless such notice is waived in writing.

C. All commission meetings, and agendas for such meetings, shall be publicized in advance by notice given to newspapers, radio and television stations and Internet sites serving the City as are designated by the commission at least three days prior to regular meetings, and at the same time as members are notified of special meetings. In addition, notice of meetings shall be posted regularly on such bulletin boards and at such locations throughout the City as are designated by the commission.

D. All meetings shall be open to the public, unless the commission, in order to protect the rights and privacy of individuals, decides otherwise and if such closed meeting is not waived by the individual concerned. The commission shall cause to be kept a proper record of its proceedings. The records and files of the commission and its officers shall include, but not be limited to, all official correspondence, or copies thereof, to and from the commission and its members, gathered in their official capacities, and shall be kept and open for inspection by the public at reasonable times in the office of the secretary to the commission.

E. A majority of the appointed commissioners shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and the affirmative vote of a majority of those present is required to take any action.

F. The commission may appoint such subcommittees as are deemed necessary or desirable for the purposes of this chapter, provided, that membership on such subcommittees shall not be limited to the commission members but may include members of the public who express an interest in the business of the subcommittees. The members of such subcommittees shall serve without compensation.

SEC. 2277. Special Meetings – Petition Requirements.

On the petition of twenty or more citizens in the City, filed in the office of the secretary of the commission, the commission shall hold a special meeting in an appropriate and convenient location for the individuals so petitioning for the purpose of responding to the petition and hearing and inquiring into matters identified therein as the concern of the petitioners. Copies of the petition shall be filed by the commission with the City Clerk and the City Council. Notice of such meeting shall be given in the same manner as notice is given for other meetings of the commission. In no case shall the commission meet later than five working days following the date the petition is filed.

SEC. 2278. Powers and Duties.

The commission established by this chapter shall have the following powers and duties:

A. To advise and make recommendations to the public, the City Council, and the City Manager;

B. To review and make recommendations concerning all written and unwritten policies, practices and procedures of whatever kind and without limitation, in relation to the Arcata Police Department, other law enforcement agencies and intelligence and military agencies operating within the City, and law enforcement generally, such review and recommendation to extend to, but not be limited to, the following:

1. Treatment of rape victims,

2. Police relationship with minority, disabled and low income communities,

3. Police relationship with college students,

4. Use of weapons and equipment, including chemical agents,

5. Use of tactics,

6. Hiring and training,

7. Sanctions,

8. Priorities for policing and patrolling,

9. Other concerns as specified from time to time by the City Council;

C. To receive complaints directed against the Police Department and any of its officers and employees, and fully and completely investigate said complaints and make such recommendations and give such advice relating to departmental policies and procedures to the City Council and the City Manager in connection therewith as the commission in its discretion deems advisable; provided as follows:

1. That investigation of all complaints filed with the commission shall begin immediately after complaints are filed and proceed as expeditiously as possible,

2. That all such complaints filed with other offices, boards, bureaus and departments of the City, including the Police Department, shall be referred to the commission for investigation,

3. That regular quarterly reports relating to the number, kind and status of all such complaints shall be made by the commission to the public, the City Council, and the City Manager;

D. To the extent permissible by law, to exercise the power of subpoena;

E. To adopt rules and regulations and develop such procedures for its own activities and investigations as may be necessary and to publish and file same with the office of the City Clerk, and to do such other things not forbidden by law which are consistent with a broad interpretation of the ordinance codified in this chapter and its general purposes; and

F. To take testimony under oath.

SECTION 5. Inconsistent Legislation.

In the event that between March 8, 2006 and the effective date of this measure, legislation is enacted by the Arcata City Council or by the voters that is inconsistent with this Act, said legislation is void and repealed irrespective of the code in which it appears.

SECTION 6. Severability.

The provisions of this Act are severable. If any section or provision of this Act is determined to be illegal, invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision of the court shall not affect or invalidate any of the remaining sections or provisions of this Act. It is the express intent of the citizens of Arcata, California that this Act would have been adopted if such illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional section or provision had not been included.

SECTION 7. Effective Date.

This Act shall take effect on January 1, 2007.