.Sonoma County Seeks Community Input on Hiring Next IOLERO Director

Sonoma County is asking for community feedback to guide a nationwide search to select the next director of the County’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Outreach and Review agency.

Founded in 2015, IOLERO is tasked with reviewing internal investigations completed by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, making policy recommendations and listening to community members’ thoughts about the Sheriff’s Office.

The selection of IOLERO’s third director is expected to guide how active the agency is in its review of Sheriff’s Office policies and use-of-force incidents.

Karlene Navarro, IOLERO’s second director, resigned last November after being appointed as a judge to the Sonoma County Superior Court. Attorney Garrick Byers currently serves as the agency’s interim director.

The County will begin a nationwide search for Navarro’s replacement in March. An online survey seeking public input will be open until 11:59pm on Sunday, Feb. 27.

The IOLERO Survey can be accessed in English at www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZWDQWZN or in Spanish at www.surveymonkey.com/r/JTBST3G.

Since the start, IOLERO has been the subject of a political struggle with law enforcement oversight advocates pushing for more oversight and law enforcement unions resisting. The first two directors have not been immune to politicization, either. 

The agency’s first director, Jerry Threet, was more popular with community activists, but came into conflict with then-Sheriff Robert Giordano in 2018 about how much access IOLERO should have to Sheriff’s documents during IOLERO’s investigations.

In turn, advocates have argued that Threet’s successor, Karlene Navarro, was too friendly with the Sheriff’s Office during her tenure.

In November 2020, the struggle went to the ballot box with 65% of Sonoma County voters approving Measure P, which increased IOLERO’s funding and powers. Law enforcement unions quickly challenged the legality of the way the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors added Measure P to the ballot. As a result, many of Measure P’s provisions are still in legal limbo.

At a Feb. 7 meeting, IOLERO’s Community Advisory Council, a group of volunteers, discussed the process of hiring the agency’s next director. Community members pushed for a community-driven, transparent recruitment process.

“The information collected from the survey will be used by the county and the recruitment firm to communicate key information about the position in the recruitment brochure and advertising, as well as the assessment of candidates in areas that are of high importance in the selection process,” stated a recent County press release.

Will Carruthershttp://www.wrcarruthers.com
Will Carruthers is the news editor of the Pacific Sun and North Bay Bohemian. Email tips to [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @Carruthers_W.
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