The Marin Post

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Marin County Civil Grand Jury

Sheriff Oversight: The Time is Now


The Marin County Civil Grand Jury publicly released a report calling for enhanced oversight of the Marin County Sheriff, “Sheriff Oversight: The Time is Now.” This report highlights recent legislation, commonly referred to as Assembly Bill 1185 that authorizes each county to create a sheriff oversight board.

The report, which is directed at the Marin County Board of Supervisors, calls attention to:

The report is available on the Marin County Civil Grand Jury website: https://www.marincounty.org/-/media/files/departments/gj/reports-responses/2021-22/sheriff-oversight--the-time-is-now.pdf?la=en

The list of agencies and elected officials required to respond can be found at the back of the report. Contact foreperson@marincivilgrandjury.org with any questions about this report.


Published Summary

New legislation, commonly referred to as Assembly Bill 1185 (AB 1185) and effective January 2021, authorizes each county to create a sheriff oversight board. It grants subpoena power enforceable by superior court action.[1] The bill was created to provide oversight and increased accountability for sheriffs across the state.

This legislation, in conjunction with an impending leadership change at the Marin County Sheriff’s Office (Sheriff’s Office), presents a rare opportunity to reset relations between the Sheriff’s Office and the communities it serves. These changes would be especially beneficial in communities such as Marin City, where the relationship with the Sheriff's Office continues to be strained.

Many communities in the county may benefit from an oversight board. However, the Grand Jury focused specifically on Marin City’s Black community for two reasons: first, the history of concerns and injustices they have experienced; and second, two recent incidents involving the Sheriff's Office which have brought community concerns to the forefront.

For much of its history, Marin City’s Black residents have experienced racial discrimination in housing and education. Some residents have also long complained of discrimination by law enforcement. These experiences have had adverse economic impacts and left many in the community distrustful of authority.

The members of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office are hardworking and dedicated public servants who could benefit from civilian oversight and accountability. Oversight can improve the quality of internal investigations of alleged misconduct by confirming complaints or exonerating law enforcement officers who are wrongfully accused.

To significantly improve accountability of the Sheriff’s Office, the Marin County Board of Supervisors should, pursuant to AB 1185, create a citizens oversight board which would:


[1] AB-1185 County Board of Supervisors: Sheriff Oversight. 2020. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB1185