Jerry Threet, director of the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO), has tendered his resignation. The IOLERO is the office created as a result of recommendations from the task force the Board of Supervisors empowered after the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez.
Last year, Sonoma County supervisors Shirlee Zane and David Rabbitt, both of whom have campaigns heavily financed by local law enforcement, expressed a desire to rethink IOLERO.
This year, citing a tight budget, Zane, who has said multiple times in the supervisor's chambers that she swoons for uniforms, has again expressed a desire to reconsider the existence of the office. More privately, she has said that since the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office has refused most of the recommendations from IOLERO and its citizen's arm, the Community Advisory Council (CAC), IOLERO has proven ineffective. Instead of calling out the Sheriff's Office for its refusal to work with the community, she has suggested the possibility of ending the effort for community input into law enforcement.
Zane and Rabbitt may suggest the "auditor" model used by Santa Rosa. When was the last time you heard from Santa Rosa's auditor? Never? I will note that Santa Rosa Police Chief Hank Schreeder has been much more receptive to input than has former Sheriff Steve Freitas or the much-lauded Rob Giordano.
I have asked SCSO Sheriff-elect Mark Essick to speak out for the continuation of IOLERO and its CAC. He campaigned on his role as a member of the task force that recommended the creation of IOLERO. I have asked him to let the board of supervisors know that he wants the opportunity to work in good faith with the office he claims he wanted. Essick voted against the recommendation, but says he was acting as Sheriff Freitas' paid representative on the task force and that this was not how he would have voted for himself. We hope to hear from him.
IOLERO was hampered by state laws which give law enforcement officers more secrecy on the job than anywhere else in the county. Reform efforts are underway in Sacramento to level the playing field. If some of this happens, it may become possible to have some real say in how community law enforcement operates.
Please let your supervisor know that you expect them to stand up for you. Let them know that you want IOLERO and its community arm to continue without their meddling.
Susan Lamont is a Sonoma County police-accountability activist. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.