SAN JOSE — If one Santa Clara County supervisor has his way, “meaningful civilian oversight” could soon be coming to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Corrections, more than two years after three guards murdered an inmate in his cell.
On Wednesday, Supervisor Joe Simitian revealed a proposal to create an office of correction and law enforcement oversight. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider the idea Wednesday.
The proposal follows a key recommendation of a blue ribbon commission that was convened in the wake of inmate Michael Tyree’s death in 2015. In June, guards Jereh Lubrin, Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriguez were convicted of second-degree murder.
“Oversight is a life saver,” Simitian said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
The office would be closely modeled after the Los Angeles County Office of the Inspector General, but tailored to meet Santa Clara County’s unique needs, according to the proposal.
Appointed by majority vote of the board, the director of the office would be tasked with overseeing operations of the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Corrections, as well as reviewing use of force patterns, trends and statistics. In addition, the director would be responsible for reviewing and conducting audits, monitoring compliance with civil rights laws, and investigating specific incidents when requested.
The proposal also would establish a nine-person committee to advise the office. The committee’s roles would include reviewing policy recommendations and serving as a bridge between the community and the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Correction.
Check back for updates on this developing story.