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Supervisors pick appointees to law enforcement task force


Sonoma County supervisors took further steps Tuesday in their response to the Andy Lopez shooting, naming most of their appointees to a community task force that will study models for future citizen oversight of local law enforcement.

Supervisors named representatives for nine of the 15 seats they will appoint on the 21-member county-chartered panel. Sheriff Steve Freitas also named his three representatives.

Andy Lopez.

Andy Lopez.

The nominees take in a cross section of the public and private sector, including human rights activists, student leaders, a nonprofit director, a law enforcement official, a former Santa Rosa city attorney, a prominent local academic and a politically active former county supervisor. At least six of those named are Latino.

Supervisors voiced confidence they were on track to form a panel diverse in ethnicity, professional background and geographic representation of the county.

“The board’s intent was to create a robust, full-breadth scope of individuals who best represent as many constituencies or as many facets of our county and community (as possible),” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo. “These are great individuals that do carry the county’s best interests in mind.”

The task force was set in motion last week in a package of actions the Board of Supervisors endorsed to respond to community outcry in the wake of Lopez’s shooting death Oct. 22.

The 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy was shot and killed by Erick Gelhaus, a veteran Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy who reportedly mistook the airsoft BB gun Lopez was carrying for a real assault rifle.

In response, the county last week gave its support to state legislation to more closely regulate the look of BB, pellet and airsoft guns.

Supervisors also backed creating a memorial park in Lopez’s southwest Santa Rosa neighborhood and pledged to boost spending for small businesses and infrastructure in disadvantaged areas.

Their other key initiative, launched this week, will be to break a decades-long logjam with Santa Rosa that’s left much of the city’s southwestern outskirts languishing in county jurisdiction.

Carrillo and Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who will spearhead that effort for the county, said renewed political will and a frank discussion about the funding needed for annexation could clear the standoff.

“That’s the negotiation, really,” Zane said.

“We have to strike while the iron is hot,” Carrillo said.

The community task force is set to make its recommendation on a model of law enforcement oversight as soon as March next year. Its first meeting is scheduled for early January.

Santa Rosa Mayor Scott Bartley has yet to choose his two appointees and District Attorney Jill Ravitch hasn’t decided on her one appointment. Supervisor David Rabbitt withheld making his three choices public Tuesday in case any balancing needed to be done to the panel’s composition. Supervisors Susan Gorin and Mike McGuire did not fill all their seats Tuesday.

The appointees so far include:

From Zane: Robert Edmonds, a police accountability advocate and student trustee at Santa Rosa Junior College; Francisco Vasquez, director of Sonoma State University’s Hutchins Institute for Public Policy Studies and Community Action; and Sylvia Lemus, a former family support officer who now works as an analyst in the county’s Human Resources department.

From Carrillo: Amber Twitchell, a Guerneville resident and executive director of the nonprofit Voices youth center; Irene Rosario, a resident of Lopez’s Moorland Avenue neighborhood and worksite organizer with Service Employees International Union Local 1021; and Eric Koenigshofer, an Occidental attorney and former county supervisor, who is also a close political adviser to Carrillo.

From McGuire: Carolyn Lopez, a Santa Rosa resident and field representative for SEIU Local 1021; and Jose Casteneda, owner of Casteneda’s Market in Windsor.

From Gorin: Brien Farrell, a former Santa Rosa city attorney and retired Elsie Allen High School teacher.

From Freitas: Omar Paz, Jr., Associated Students president at Santa Rosa Junior College; Mark Essick, a sergeant in the Windsor Police Department; and Judy Rice, chairwoman of the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights.

You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.

12 Responses to “Supervisors pick appointees to law enforcement task force”

  1. Appointees with Conflicts says:

    Here’s the reality check:
    The County Sheriff’s Officer’s belong to a union. That union belongs to the North Bay Labor Council. So does SEIU and a lot of other unions. They pool their money and contribute it to pay for the salary of its executive director Lisa Maldonado and they make political contributions to …guess who? the board of Supervisor candidates with checks signed by Maldonado. Secondly the NBLC funds a group with the sole purpose of sending out hit pieces against political opponents during elections. Who is running it? Lisa Maldonado. Any union member who belongs to the NBLC should not serve on this task force or the final Review Board because they have a conflict of interest. They cannot be objective about sheriffs.

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  2. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    That’s “Andy’s part of TOWN”. Sorry!

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  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    HOMEGIRL-I do. I’m SEIU and we are involved with the North Bay Organizing project as well as working with other groups including trade unions in the county. I attended several of the Andy Lopez’s marches and rallies and so did many others from SEIU. As for the safety unions, they are traditionally conservative. I’m as upset as anyone else at the high presence of the sheriff’s and SRPD in “certain” parts of town and their bully tactics. I believe firmly if Andy lived in my part of town he’d be alive today and it angers me.

    Irene is extremely conscientious, lives in Andy’s part of time and will be an asset on the committee. She’s not there because she is SEIU.

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  4. homegirl says:

    ZANE; Sylvia Lemus, a city employee.
    CARILLO; Irene Rosario, an SEIU employee.
    And Eric Koenighoffer, employed by Carillo and a longtime political insider.
    MCGUIRE; Carollyn Lopez, SEIU Field Rep.
    FREITAS; Maek Essick-Sgt. Windsor Police Department.

    Does anyone believe that the SEIU employees will be impartial when making decisions regarding members of powerful unions?

    More representative choices could have been made.

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  5. James Bennett says:

    That shouldn’t have happened, the People know it.
    The fact that the deputy is back on the street speaks to the two culture, Us and Them mentality that contributes largely to our problem in Government right now.

    It starts with new hires in parking enforcement. it is instilled.

    The thing that I find interesting/ noteworthy is that the tainted local establishment seeks to use this tragedy as an instrument of social engineering. To divide.
    To promote socioeconomic/racial divide. As it plays the music for socialism.

    Portrays PC.

    What’s correct is for us to engage civilly.

    Lots of reasons to do it now.

    The very last thing TPTB want is for us to come together.

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  6. Robert says:

    “Work for REAL reform. Fire the les than competent cops now ! There is a long line of good cops waiting to be hired.”

    No, there isn’t. A friend who works for the county HR said they recently went through over 700 applicants. 500 passed the written, 200 passed the interview and 6 passed the background.

    In this area, too many are dopers, drunks or have other criminal/mental/social stuff going on.

    There is always a long line for many of these types of jobs, just few in that line are fit for the job.

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  7. Robert says:

    I understand what you said. How does that relate to the this case? Andy Lopez was armed with a realistic looking gun.
    That rule, interesting as it is, would change nothing.

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  8. RICHARD says:

    How about:

    If an unarmed person is killed, the law enforcement personnel responsible shall be removed from law enforcement. Killing an unarmed person is too serious to be acceptable. Even if it was an honest mistake, the magnitude of such a mistake warrants the the killers termination from employment in law enforcement. There must be accountability.

    Establish a citizen review board with subpena power and power to discipline.

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  9. Papa ESoCo says:

    Hmmmm, Not much to say at this point, as all positions not filled. Does seem to be at least an attempt at diversity(which has been promised). That said, do have a
    question: Eric Koenigshofer, one of “Captain Underpants” handlers??? WTF, you gotta a be kidding me. Oh well, just ha to say it.

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  10. A step in the right direction….for
    a change, (literally)

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  11. Elephant says:

    Anybody else see the hypocrisy with Carrillo appointing people to a law enforcement oversight committee?

    Anybody else NOT surprised by his appointment of his number one enabler Eric Koenigshofer? Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.

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  12. Steveguy says:

    Ask any honest law enforcement officer, and they will say that 20-25% of cops are “bad cops”.

    The citizens need to erase the blue line. They are only getting more militaristic and more confrontational, basically bullies with a badge.

    Work for REAL reform. Fire the les than competent cops now ! There is a long line of good cops waiting to be hired.

    Please rid us of the rotten eggs in law enforcement, as they leave a bad taste in everybodies mouth.

    ERASE THE BLUE LINE !! Finally

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