The Office of Independent Review simply hasn’t lived up to all the hype. Someday a mayor will either build an OIR of stability and stature, or scrap the current setup and start anew.
Might as well be the new mayor. Which way will he go?
Eddie Aubrey was the first police auditor, hired by then-City Manager Andy Souza in November 2009. Aubrey was a disaster, though the problem may have been as much the Administration as him. Aubrey left after a few years, and the position went unfilled for a while.
Rick Rasmussen has been police auditor for a bit more than two years. He’s a smart guy – fair, honest, tough, experienced, talented. But he lives in Utah and works here on a part-time basis.
Rasmussen recently got an assistant – Mark Scharman, director of internal audits. They don’t work for free.
Rasmussen and Scharman consistently produce quarterly reports. Here’s the essence of the fourth quarter report for 2015:
“There are no specific, case related recommendations this quarter. OIR examined FPD’s policy surrounding ‘Investigative Detentions’ and found their policy and actions to be within the law and policy. The FPD documents these instances, which is crucial as the potential for a lawsuit is always present when a person is stopped, detained and in most cases, restrained until such a time that the facts can be sorted out. This topic is an issue elsewhere in the country and it is with great pride that OIR can report that based upon the available data, and the lack of complaints locally, that the FPD is following current law and recent court decisions.”
That’s what’s called “mailing it in.”
The dilemma facing the new mayor is that to turn the OIR into a dynamic force in the oversight and direction of the Fresno Police Department is to almost certainly create a major conflict with the Fresno Police Officers Association, a bitter opponent of the OIR concept from Day One.
And, as Bee reporters John Ellis and Pablo Lopez recently reported, morale among sworn offices is already painfully low.