The men and women of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department are among the best in law enforcement. But that does not mean we shouldn’t always look to ways in which our local law enforcement agencies can’t better interact with the public. Recent events across the nation have highlighted how important the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve are. Recognizing this, the County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance establishing rules and procedures for the Sheriff Outreach Community Advisory Board (SOCAB) at their March 7, 2016 meeting. While Supervisor Kennedy voiced concerns that the changes went far enough, they are a start. Effectively administered, SOCAB will play a vital role in establishing and/or maintaining effective relations between Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the community.
The purpose of the SOCAB is to collaboratively establish and implement programs that seek to resolve conflict, concerns, and issues. The SOCAB duties include, but are not limited to:
- Providing annual reviews to the Sheriff and Board of Supervisors concerning complaints and testimony from the community related to operations, policies and standard operating procedures of the Sheriff’s Department;
- Acting in an advisory capacity to the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff in promoting, aiding and encouraging community input on sheriff operations, policies and standing operating procedures;
- Acting in an advisory capacity to the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff in the development and operation of the Department’s law enforcement activities; and,
- Soliciting and accepting testimony from the community regarding complaints pertaining to operations, policies and standard operating procedures of the Department’s law enforcement activities.
During a July meeting of the Board of Supervisors, many members of the public voiced concerns about the relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and the community. As a result of this and other occurrences, Supervisor Kennedy looked for opportunities at enhanced accountability, communications, and transparency.
The new board membership places a majority of civilian appointments in control of the SOCAB and now includes:
- 5 members appointed by the Sheriff;
- 5 members appointment by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors;
- 1 member appointed by the Sacramento County Executive;
- The Sacramento County Inspector General; and,
- At the discretion of the cities, 1 member from each incorporated city.
Establishing a formal relationship between the SOCAB and the Sacramento County Inspector General is an important role for the new SOCAB. The Inspector General conducts fact findings, audits, and other inquiries pertaining to administrative or operational matters of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. Having SOCAB members and the Office of Inspector General work together will provide the Inspector General an opportunity to interface with the community on a regular basis.