.No Holds Barred

Opinion: Sonoma County Sheriff's relationship with review agency is too close

Karlene Navarro, Director of the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO), has now revealed herself to be an extension of the Sheriff’s Office public relations arm.

Navarro has given cover to Sheriff Mark Essick’s refusal last year to ban the carotid artery hold, a move she applauded, saying the hold needed more study.

In fact, the Community Advisory Council (CAC) of IOLERO spent a few years working on Use of Force policy recommendations after studying best practices around the country and meeting with members of the public. Those thoroughly researched recommendations were presented and rejected almost a year ago.

Last summer, Navarro told the members of the CAC that they would be terminated at the end of 2019 and scheduled no monthly meetings for the rest of their terms. The Board of Supervisors made her hold one more meeting. 

Navarro then created her own CAC, which has done little work according to their reports at their June 2nd meeting. Navarro recently recruited interns from SSU to work with the CAC, but a CAC member had to ask the status of that program. 

Now she says that their “research,” which had not begun on June 2nd and was to include studying the policies of 52 sheriff’s offices in the state, was completed in the next couple of days, was determined to support ending the carotid hold and was sent on to the Sheriff so that he could support banning the carotid hold, coincidentally, just as the state was enacting such a ban. We’re to believe that the work began on June 3rd and Essick accepted it in time to institute his ban on June 6th.

I’m not buying any of it.

Essick and Navarro have had their hands forced by public protest and are covering their tracks, but this hold should have been banned last year, before a sheriff’s deputy used it to kill David Ward. And all of it gives the lie to the word “independent” in IOLERO under Director Navarro.

Susan Collier Lamont lives in Santa Rosa.


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