The chairwoman of the Inglewood Citizen Police Oversight Commission said Thursday that city officials must "employ drastic measures to regain the public's trust." Her comments were made on the same day that funeral services were held for a man fatally shot by police.
Adrianne Sears, who heads the 11-member volunteer citizens panel, said she was particularly concerned that the commission was not substantively involved in the investigation of complaints of alleged police misconduct and officer-involved shootings. In the last three months, the city has had three fatal officer-involved shootings.
"The community is outraged by this recent rash of officer-involved shootings," Sears said in a telephone interview from Georgia. "The commission is frustrated with the lack of information from the Police Department and the authority to provide effective oversight."
"The inner workings of the commission must be overhauled," Sears said in her first public comments since the July 21 police shooting of Kevin Wicks, 38. "Now is the time for our own city officials to give us what the community needs: a citizen police oversight commission with teeth, not gums."
Police say Wicks was shot after he raised a gun at Officer Brian Ragan, who was responding to a report of a family disturbance at Wicks' apartment complex. Wicks' family members say police responded to the wrong address, did not announce themselves and did not have to use deadly force.
Ragan was one of two officers involved in the May 11 shooting of three unarmed men that resulted in the death of Michael Byoune, 19. The families of the victims have filed a suit against the city.
On Wednesday, the City Council agreed to hire the Sheriff's Department's Office of Independent Review to conduct a review of the shootings.
Police Commissioner Willie Agee told council members: "We have a police review board with no say-so, no power."
"If this police review board had the power it should have, maybe these two-three people who are dead wouldn't be dead," Agee said.