Two bankers and the president of the San Diego Police Officers Assn. are among 11 people who have been appointed to serve on a new city panel charged with reviewing police policies and defusing tension between police and some San Diego residents.
The appointments Tuesday by the San Diego City Council now leave only two vacancies on the Citizens Advisory Board on Police-Community Relations, a 13-member advisory panel created by the council in July in the wake of two well-publicized shooting incidents involving police officers.
The advisory panel is far weaker than the kind of citizens review board requested by residents of Southeast San Diego, who asked for a citizens group with the power to investigate specific cases of alleged police brutality and abuse. The suggestion drew strong opposition from Police Chief Bill Kolender, police rank-and-file and some council members.
A compromise spawned the new panel, which will exist for two years and limit its work to reviewing police policies to determine if they are "sensitive, effective and responsive to the needs of the city," according to the ordinance that created it. The panel has no power to impose its findings or suggested changes on the department.
Councilman William Jones, who led the fight for the new panel, said he was "eager" to put the group to work once the remaining appointments are made, presumably next week.
The new group was formed in the wake of public outcry over the March 31 incident in Southeast San Diego in which officer Thomas Riggs, 27, was killed and his partner, Donovan J. Jacobs, was wounded. Both officers were shot when 23-year-old Sagon Penn allegedly grabbed a gun from Jacobs' holster after scuffling with the officers.
The shooting stirred duel emotions. Members of the police officers associations said San Diego had the nation's highest on-the-job mortality rate for police, while Southeast San Diego residents said the incident, during which Penn was allegedly verbally abused and roughed up by the officers, underscored continuing police brutality.
One week later, police shot and killed a 21-year-old UC San Diego student running through a San Carlos neighborhood as he brandished a 12-inch kitchen knife. Police defended the action by saying they were unable to subdue the man with a Taser dart gun.
Although months have passed, there is still some ill will against police in Southeast San Diego, especially since the Sagon Penn murder trial is beginning and making headlines, said Ty Reid, president of the San Diego Police Officers Assn. who will represent the viewpoint of officers on the new panel.
Also serving on the panel are:
- Henry Sanchez, a trust officer at San Diego Trust and Savings Bank and immediate past president of the Mexican-American Business and Professional Assn. At one time, he was a police officer in New Mexico.
- Murray Galinson, president of the San Diego National Bank who serves on many law-related committees, including the Association of American Law Schools. He also serves on the mayor's crime task force.
- Don Hartley, owner of the Hartley Company, an insurance company. Hartley has been involved in programs to stop crime.
- Katherine So, a former aide to Councilwoman Gloria McColl and now an attorney with the firm of McDonald, Hecht and Soleberg.
- Joe Lemon, residential living supervisor of San Diego Job Corp., who served as a member of the mayor's crime task force under former Mayor Pete Wilson.
- Phil Hart, a data processing consultant.
- Ternot Mac Renato, a political science and history teacher at San Diego City College.
- Delia Talamantes, staff affirmative action and conflict of interest coordinator for UCSD.
- Andrea Skorepa, executive director of Casa Familiar, a youth program in San Ysidro.
Yet to be named to the board is a judge and a nominee from Councilman Ed Struiksma. Mayor Roger Hedgecock, who was responsible for making the final nominations to the council, declined to forward any nominee from Struiksma who submitted only one name, instead of three as called for in the ordinance.