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NAACP Unanimously Affirms Continuing Lawsuit Over Pasadena’s Body Camera Policy Process

 

Chief Phillip Sanchez. – Courtesy photo by Terry Miller

The NAACP’s 5-step process to ratify the NAACP v. Mermell lawsuit has been completed, with all 5 levels of decision-making unanimously agreeing that the lawsuit should continue.

City Manager Steve Mermell. – Courtesy photo by Terry Miller

On Nov. 20, President Gary Moody of the Pasadena Branch of the NAACP made a time-sensitive decision to authorize the Branch suing the City of Pasadena, City Manager Steve Mermell, and Police Chief Phillip Sanchez concerning newly-issued Pasadena PD Policy 450 on body cameras. The lawsuit by the NAACP and Northwest Pasadena activist Michelle White alleges that the City Manager and Police Chief implemented a “bait-and-switch” scheme in using a more progressive body camera policy to obtain $250,000 in Department of Justice Funds, to obtain letters of support for the funding from the local NAACP President and others, and in DOJ-required community meetings and discussions on the body camera policy, but the City Manager/Police Chief then switched to issuing a less progressive final policy without further public vetting or resubmitting the policy to the DOJ. The lawsuit alleges that the issuance of the policy was done in a manner that subverted the Pasadena City Council’s right to instruct the City Manager and his subordinates on policy. The lawsuit also alleges that the Policy 450 that designates body camera audio and video as “investigative materials” prior to any investigation so as to illegally prevent their public release.

Normally, an NAACP decision to initiate litigation is not so time-sensitive and goes through a 5-step process of (1) the President recommending the litigation to the Branch Executive Committee, (2) the Branch Executive Committee recommending the litigation to a general membership meeting, (3) the Branch general membership meeting recommending the litigation to the State NAACP, (4) the State NAACP recommending the litigation to the National NAACP General Counsel, and (5) the national NAACP General Counsel giving the final approval for the litigation.

All 5 steps for final approval of this lawsuit have now been completed, with unanimous approval of the lawsuit at all 5 levels. Gary Moody received notification on Wednesday, December 7, that the final step of approval by the NAACP’s national General Counsel had occurred.

December 9, 2016

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