Police Oversight Commission called a 'mockery'

Created: 04/15/2014 10:10 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

One of three Police Oversight Commissioners who stepped down from the group today called the commission a “mockery” of real civilian oversight.

All three of them said the group has no power, citing an April 10 message from the city attorney’s office as the final straw. They say they do not want to deceive citizens into thinking they do have effective civilian oversight.

“I think they're frustrated cause they're just not getting the kind of power and oversight that they need and so we're seeing people resign,” Ralph Arellanes of LULAC, who served on a task force to reform the POC, said.

Peter Simonson of the ACLU was on that task force too.

“We felt the police oversight commission and the Independent review office, in whatever way shape or form they take, should form a single system and ultimately that the IRO should respond to, be supervised by, the oversight body,” Simonson said.

That task force created eighteen recommendations, some of which city council is working on now. But most of the recommendations haven’t been put into action by city officials.

In the meantime, Richard Shine, Jennifer Barela and Jonathan Siegel resigned from the commission.

“It's unfortunate, maybe it's inevitable. The situation we have currently, we know that the POC and the IRO are in a state of complete uncertainty as they wait to see what the city council plans to do,” Simonson said. “They were extremely frustrated with the way in which the city attorney's office has construed the relationship between the IRO and the POC, construed the power of the POC to weigh in on policy matters and obtain certain kinds of data from the police department and so I think all of their concerns were completely legitimate, I can totally understand why they had the reaction they did and I know both Mr. Siegel and Mr. Shine and I think they are upstanding individuals, devoted to their community.”

In their letters, all three resigning commissioners said they hope the city will take action to reform the POC.

“I think they truly wanted to see an effective civilian oversight body process here in the city of Albuquerque and I think it’s a shame to lose them from the civilian oversight process. I hope that they can remain engaged because really they have committed literally thousands of hours on our community's behalf,” Simonson said.

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