The Long Beach City Council will conduct interviews over the weekend in hopes of naming the new director of the recently formed Police Oversight Commission, potentially as soon as next week, according to the city.
The position will work with the Police Oversight Commission and will monitor the Long Beach Police Department for systemic issues, make recommendations and potentially investigate high-profile allegations of police misconduct.
The new commission was created through the ballot box when voters approved an overhaul of the existing Citizens Police Complaint Commission in the November election. About 60% of voters approved the creation of the new Police Oversight Commission and the disbanding of the CPCC, which stopped receiving new cases to review at the end of 2022.
The new director position will have the ability to investigate complaints against the police chief, command staff and even major use-of-force incidents resulting in great bodily injury or death, but first, the city manager would have to authorize it.
While CPCC commissioners reviewed parallel investigations into alleged police misconduct, the new commissioners will serve in an advisory role to the new director, who will provide annual reports to the commission and audit the Police Department’s practices, something that will rely in part on commissioners’ recommendations for areas of focus.
The CPCC had come under fire in recent years with current and former commissioners as well as members of the public complaining that the body had no “teeth,” and when it did make recommendations to discipline officers, those votes were overruled by city management.
CPCC commissioners held the authority to subpoena witnesses but almost never used that power partially due to a lack of clarity over if they could. The 11-member CPCC will be replaced by a seven-member body that will act as a public outreach arm and give guidance to the director for policy areas to audit on a year-to-year basis.
Similar to the city’s old model, city management will retain the ultimate authority over when and how officers will be disciplined under the new commission model.
City officials championed the changes as a way to allow its oversight body to have more access to police files that the CPCC did not have the authority to review. The director will be able to access internal police files as they audit systemic trends within the department and suggest changes that could be made.
The city said it expected it might take a full year to implement the new commission including the appointment of new commissioners and finishing negotiations with LBPD’s union representatives for how the new body and its director will work with the department. After the new director is named, staff for the new department will be hired and then new commissioners will have to be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council.
At a meeting earlier this year, city management said it believed that the new commission should be operational by the end of 2023 or early 2024 at the latest.