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Police oversight gets closer

Police Commissioners this week agreed an outside consultant could help oversee the implementation of the police department’s 2011 Strategic Plan — even agreeing who they believe that person should be. But they stopped short of making a formal recommendation to the City Council.

Elise Stearns-Niesen, commission chair, said attorney Robert Corbin, who assisted the Los Angeles Police Department in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating and Rampart scandal, “seems to know where we were and where we are going.”

Success would mean cultural changes had taken place in a department plagued by lawsuits and allegations of excessive force. But commissioners said they were unsure what exactly that would mean for them or the overseer, conceding this is a new area for them.

Stearns-Niesen said she hoped commissioners would have some role in the oversight and would partner with the overseer.


“But I’m not sure how that would look,” she said, calling for a subcommittee to better define the role. Commissioners Tom Bruehl and Richard Warmack agreed to join Stearns-Niesen on that task.

Councilman Dave Golonski, who with Councilman David Gordon are the council representatives to the commission, weighed in at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We look to you for police department oversight; to be right on top of things, if they’re going well, if they’re not,” Golonski said. “How it’s accomplished is up to you.”

Bruehl said he believes that most of his fellow commissioners and the council itself are looking to strengthen the role of the body.


“The council is trying to figure out the commission’s proper role and the commission is trying to figure out the proper role of civilian oversight,” he said in an interview this week.