Inside Lee Brand's attempt to reshape police oversight

George Hostetter on what the Advisory Board does to the Police Auditor and why it won’t be subject to Open Meeting laws.


The proposed Citizens Public Safety Advisory Board must be a delicate thing.


That’s the only possible explanation for its status as a top-secret agency.

The City Council on Thursday will debate Mayor Lee Brand’s plan to reform the way our cops protect us.

“The purpose of the Board is to enhance trust, accountability and transparency and promote higher standards of services in the Fresno Police Department,” says Article I of the Board’s bylaws. “This will increase public confidence in the Police Department and work to strengthen and ensure the application of equal protection under the law for all citizens in the City of Fresno. More trust and public confidence in the Police Department will help make our police officers safer and more effective in the performance of their duties.”

Sounds great.

However, I must admit there’s much I don’t understand about Brand’s legislation to create the Board.

Here’s the thing that really stumps me: Brand insists that the Board’s meetings are not subject to the state Open Meeting Law.

Let’s see – “enhance trust, accountability and transparency” by meeting behind closed doors. I don’t get it.

The big question is whether a four-member council majority gets it.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

The Police Department has always had its critics. That’s right and proper in our republic. Police officers have legal authority to use deadly force if that’s necessary to maintain public order. The exercise of such power must receive firm and constant oversight by the sovereign people and their representatives.

But, how?

1 comment
  1. Plus, there is already a board advising the Police Chief. The Police Chief’s Citizen Advisory Board.

    It does have a representative from each of the Council Districts plus area leaders from various city support groups. These meetings are open and the minutes are available online.

    I have represented Council District 2 since Brian Calhoun’s term.

    But, this board does not serve the purpose the new mayor wants.

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