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AB-1185 designed to strengthen oversight of sheriff departments


After months of effort by community groups, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed the passage of AB1185 to authorize sheriff oversight at a statewide level and ensure civilian oversight commissions have the authority to investigate local matters.

The successful passing of Measure R in Los Angeles by the Reform LA Jails campaign and the nationwide political uprising led to the re-introduction of AB1185 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-7) and senator Holly Mitchell (D-30). The call for oversight and authority comes as the LA County Sheriff Department continues to fail in providing transparency and accountability regarding the conditions inside LA County Jails.

Measure R granted the Civilian Oversight Commission subpoena power over the LA County Sheriff department and has consistently worked to investigate rogue antics. With the passage of AB1185, sheriffs will no longer be able to contest the legitimacy of oversight bodies or their power to subpoena.

Mariela Alburgues, Reform LA Jails director of implementation issued the following response:

“We applaud Governor Newsom for standing on the side of justice and signing AB1185 that is long over due for California residents. The city of Los Angeles has set a prime example of what a form of justice looks like to hold Sheriff Villanueva accountable with the historic passing of Measure R and now the State of California could lead our nation. Now, we have the backing of the State of California to hold accountable any Sheriff who abuses their power and attempts to undermine local efforts to bring transparency.

“We thank Assemblymember McCarty for his leadership in introducing this bill. We especially want to thank all of the community members and organizations who have worked endlessly to make this all happen.”

Some important policy background of AB1185 includes:

• Clarification of state law as to a county’s authority to establish a sheriff oversight board by either appointment or vote of county residents.

• Authorization of a sheriff oversight board to issue a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum when deemed necessary to investigate a matter within the jurisdiction of the board.

• Authorization of a county to establish an office of the inspector general to assist the board with its supervisory duties, as provided.