Monthly news and Updates.
JUNE 30, 2021 |NUMBER 26
Dear Community Partners,
In this June edition of IOLERO's newsletter we will discuss the recent decision from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) about Measure P, a new case from the United States Supreme Court based on events that took place here in Sonoma County, the Community Advisory Council’s (CAC) July 12th meeting and a Spotlight feature on the history of Juneteenth by community leader, Faith Ross.
PERB's Ruling on Measure P
As many of you know by now, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) issued a decision last week about Measure P in response to labor complaints filed by the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association (SCLEA) and the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA). PERB’s ruling declared provisions related to IOLERO’s investigatory power, subpoena power, ability to post body-worn camera video and authority to make discipline recommendations “void and unenforceable” and ordered IOLERO to “cease and desist” from engaging in any investigations or other conduct related to the provisions voided by PERB.  

It goes without saying that I write to you today with great disappointment. I know that many of you feel that same disappointment, frustration and despair over PERB’s ruling. Nearly two-thirds of this community voted in favor of Measure P. Countless numbers of you volunteered your time through the Measure P campaign, or by expressing your support to the Board of Supervisors during public comment, attending a virtual town hall or talking with friends and neighbors to help support Measure P. Sonoma County’s support for increased civilian oversight of law enforcement resulted in the passage of a new ordinance — widely known as Measure P — that greatly expanded IOLERO’s ability to do this important work and PERB’s ruling feels like a rebuff to that progress. 

The gist of PERB’s ruling is that provisions of Measure P affect the labor conditions of Sheriff’s Office employees and should have been discussed during a meet and confer process before Measure P was placed on the ballot. PERB wrote, “The County has a substantial interest in increasing transparency and fostering community trust in policing and correctional services. But for those Measure P amendments aimed in material part at investigation and discipline of employees, the benefits of collective bargaining outweigh the County’s interest. Indeed, because such issues lie at the core of traditional labor relations, they are particularly amenable to collective bargaining." (PERB Decision, 38-39, citations omitted.)  

I want to emphasize to you that PERB’s decision to void these provisions was not based on the constitutional or legal merits of the provisions themselves meaning – it has not been deemed unlawful for IOLERO to investigate the Sheriff’s Office independently, recommend discipline, post body-worn camera videos or issue subpoenas. PERB's decision voided the provisions based on the lack of a meet and confer process.   

While this ruling is a setback, it does not mean that law enforcement reform in Sonoma County is dead. There is new state legislation such as AB 1185 that gives general law counties like Sonoma County more options for expanding the authority of agencies like IOLERO by permitting subpoena and investigatory power. Furthermore, the fact that Measure P passed with approximately 65% of the vote cannot be ignored. Sonoma County voters overwhelmingly voiced their desire and support for greater civilian oversight of law enforcement in Sonoma County. 

Moving forward, the Board of Supervisors has to look into and consider the options such as whether to appeal the PERB decision or to restart the process through a meet and confer process. In the meantime, IOLERO has been instructed by counsel to cease work affected by the PERB decision including IOLERO's open independent investigation of the protester complaints, the finalization of IOLERO’s whistleblower hotline, implementing IOLERO's body-worn camera posting program, and making discipline recommendations in the audits that are currently being conducted. While the County continues to evaluate the PERB decision and determines next steps, IOLERO will continue in our existing work and implement all provisions of Measure P which were unaffected by the procedural challenge.

Karlene Navarro, Esq., Director of IOLERO
The United States Supreme Court rules on a Sonoma County Case
On June 23, 2021, the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States, ruled on a criminal case that took place here in Sonoma County. 

The case began in 2016 in the area surrounding the town of Sonoma. The defendant, Arthur Lange drove past a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer while listening to loud music with his windows down and repeatedly honking his horn. (Lange v. California, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 3396, 6) The CHP officer followed Mr. Lange and shortly afterward turned on his overhead lights to initiate a traffic stop. At that point, Mr. Lange was only about a hundred feet or a four-seconds drive from his home. (Id.) Rather than stop in response to the officer’s lights, Mr. Lange drove into the garage of his home. The officer followed Mr. Lange into the garage of his home, questioned him and determined Mr. Lange’s blood alcohol content was about three times the legal limit resulting in Mr. Lange’s arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). (Id.) 

When it comes to the Fourth Amendment, a person’s home is sacred. “[A]t the Amendment’s very core, [the Supreme Court] has said, ‘stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable government intrusion.’” (Id. at 11.) The question in this case was whether the CHP officer lawfully entered into Mr. Lange’s home to question and ultimately arrest him. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution generally requires a warrant before a law enforcement officer can enter a person’s home without permission. (Id. at 9.) 

However, there are exceptions to this rule. One exception to the warrant requirement is for “exigent circumstances.” A police officer may enter a person’s home without a warrant if there are exigent circumstances and he or she does not have enough time to get a warrant. Exigent circumstances may exist, for example, if the officer has to enter the home to provide emergency assistance to someone who is injured, to prevent the destruction of evidence or to prevent a suspect’s escape. (Id.) The high Court specified that “application of the exigent-circumstances exception in the context of a home entry should rarely be sanctioned when there is probable cause to believe that only a minor offense” is involved. (Id. at 16-17)

In the Lange case, the suspected offense at the time the officer followed Mr. Lange into his home appeared to be playing loud music, a misdemeanor and by definition a minor offense. The suspected offense of playing loud music is considered minor even if Mr. Lange “fled” by not stopping and driving into his garage. 

The Supreme Court held that when a misdemeanant flees the case should be judged on a case-by-case basis and “when the totality of the circumstances shows an emergency [i.e., exigent circumstances”] the police may act without waiting [for a warrant]…but the need to pursue a misdemeanant does not trigger a categorical rule allowing home entry, even absent a law enforcement emergency. When the nature of the crime, the nature of the flight, and surrounding facts present no such exigency, officers must respect the sanctity of the home – which means they must get a warrant.” (Id. at 18.) 

This case was “remanded” to the lower court meaning it was sent back to the lower court to reconsider Mr. Lange’s conviction in light of this ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States. 
At its July CAC Meeting the CAC Discusses Crisis Intervention 
On July 12, 2021, the CAC will welcome Santa Rosa City Council Member and former mayor of Santa Rosa, Tom Swedhelm, Santa Rosa Police Department, Captain John Cregan, and Behavorial Health Services Division Director, Bill Carter for a discussion about the City of Santa Rosa’s developing mental health crisis response program.  

The Santa Rosa Police Department is leading the local Sonoma County effort to pursue a program that would dispatch unarmed personnel trained in nonviolent interventions to such calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program is based on the CAHOOTS model, which stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets which has been in place for more than three decades in Eugene, Oregon. The program would pair a licensed mental health clinician from a local nonprofit with a nurse or EMT to help individuals who are chronically without shelter, or struggling with mental health or substance dependence issues in the county’s largest city. Read more by clicking here; and click here to read IOLERO’s March Spotlight feature on Sonoma County’s efforts for a CAHOOTS-inspired program.

This meeting will take place virtually on July 12th at 6pm. IOLERO staff is still working on confirming additional panelists and an update will be sent out before the meeting. 

You can review the agenda, minutes and videos of past CAC meetings by clicking here.
Juneteenth is a significant part of our history and it is now a federal holiday
By Faith Ross
Juneteenth is the name given to June 19th in celebration of the day that enslaved black people in Texas discovered that they had been set free by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862. This day is also referred to as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day or Emancipation Day.

In 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas. Unbeknownst to them, President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, which became effective on January 1, 1863. This document had officially outlawed slavery in Texas and the other states in rebellion against the Union. Texas being the most remote of the slave states had a low presence of Union troops as the American Civil War ended; thus enforcement there was slow. 

With the end of the Civil War, Union Major General Gordon Granger was tasked with overseeing the peaceful transition of power, nullifying all laws passed by Confederate lawmakers, and enforcing the emancipation of all enslaved people. On the morning of Monday, June 19, 1865, he arrived on the island of Galveston, to complete these tasks. 

The Texas Historical Commission and Galveston Historical Foundation report that Granger’s men marched throughout Galveston reading the order of emancipation and declaring that all enslaved persons were free. They went to the Union Army Headquarters at the Osterman Building (this building was at the intersection of Strand Street and 22nd Street, but has been demolished). Next, they marched to the 1861 Customs House and Courthouse before finally marching to the Negro Church on Broadway, since renamed Reedy Chapel-AME Church.

Although Juneteenth generally celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, it was still legal and practiced in two Union border states (Delaware and Kentucky) until later that year when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished chattel slavery nationwide in December.

On June 21, 2014, the Galveston Historical Foundation and Texas Historical Commission erected a Juneteenth plaque where the Osterman Building once stood signifying the location of Major General Granger's Union Headquarters and subsequent issuance of his general orders.

Juneteenth celebrations spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often centering on a food festival. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, it was eclipsed by the struggle for postwar civil rights, but grew in popularity again in the 1970s with a focus on African American freedom and arts. By the 21st century, Juneteenth was celebrated in most major cities across the United States. In 1979, Democratic State Representative Al Edwards of Houston, Texas successfully sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a paid Texas state holiday. In 2020, state governors of Virginia, New York, and New Jersey signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid day of leave for state employees.

This year, 2021 Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday.

Faith Ross is one of the co-founders of Petaluma Blacks for Community Development (PBCD) which was established in 1978. Ms. Ross has made a notable, lasting impact in Petaluma and Sonoma County through her many contributions to historical education and community issues affecting people of color and social justice. Ms. Ross curated Petaluma’s Black History Month exhibit and “ofrenda” or alter for Día de los Muertos during a year of nationwide outrage over police treatment of Black people. Ms. Ross was named Sonoma County Woman of the Year by Sen. Bill Dodd. 
To read IOLERO’s other newsletters and updates, please visit our website.