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In Favor of a Police Review Board 

Editor:

We have now seen the true colors of at least two Eureka Police Department officers ('Mission, Values, Vision,' June 3). It is obvious that Sgt. Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez and officer Mark Meftah need to be immediately terminated. These are people officially charged with protecting and serving the most vulnerable, unempowered and defenseless segments of society. We now know, thanks to the anonymous leaker of their secret toxic texts, that they have zero willingness to respect the humanity of the homeless and other unfortunates.

Are there other officers there in the EPD whose texts were not revealed, and who harbor similar depraved attitudes? Are there other EPD officers who were aware of the vile attitudes of Reyna-Sanchez and Meftah, and potentially others, and who said nothing, did nothing and reported nothing to their superiors? Were their superiors aware of this and did nothing? According to the NCJ's article there are, indeed, indications of this. It is not unreasonable to assume there may be others lurking in the department.

It would be nice if the city of Eureka's hiring of a investigatory firm were to answer these questions, but I'm not holding my breath. History shows and contemporary accounts of similar incidents in other places reveal that such investigations have a way of disappearing or dissolving into legal murkiness.

The best, and only, sufficient answer would be the establishment by the county board of supervisors of a citizen's law enforcement review board (CLERB). This board would have the authority to launch subpoena-based investigations and, upon finding cause, to terminate the employment of officers like Reyna-Sanchez and Meftah. Membership of the CLERB must also include representatives of the most vulnerable and underserved communities targeted by renegade officers: the homeless, veterans, drug users, the mentally ill and racial minorities.

John Webb, Trinidad

Editor:

Kudos to Thadeus Greenson and the Journal for the excellent investigative article on the Eureka Police Department. It cited the Sacramento Bee articles and provided additional distressing information and background on problems in EPD. It described efforts by Chief Watson to make effective changes. I've read Chief Watson's booklet, "Report to the Community on 21st Century Policing," and believe he is making sincere, good faith efforts to bring changes.

In April, the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee passed a resolution calling for a citizens' law enforcement review board with subpoena power, and majority representation of members of groups in the community who have long been ill-served and abused by law enforcement. The HCDCC created an ad hoc committee to gather community support for the CLERB. We believe a CLERB would improve relations between law enforcement and the community. It could support efforts by Chief Watson and, hopefully, other law enforcement leaders to bring positive change to both enforcement and community relations. That is our goal: We do not support "defunding the police" but seek accountability, equitable treatment and positive relations with the agencies.

We also believe that a CLERB could save the county and cities a lot of money in legal actions and settlements. An example: the infamous "$100,000 haircuts" — see the Journal's edition from July of 1991, (volume II, issue 7).

There have been two earlier efforts to create citizen oversight boards, both of which withered away because they had no real subpoena power, little or no investigative power, were basically advisory only and the public lost confidence in them. We need a strong CLERB!

Margaret Dickinson, Eureka

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