By J. Shadé Quintanilla
After much controversy surrounding the police shooting of Kendrec McDade, city officials have hired a consultant group to study possible police oversight models for the Pasadena Police Department. Slated to begin in mid-January, Kathryn Olson, head consultant of Change Integration, along with her associate Barbara Attard, will conduct a study of the police department and put together a report with different oversight models the city should consider.
Olson, former president of National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), has already revealed two possible oversight models she will recommend–the oversight systems in Seattle, WA and San Jose, CA. Both Olson and Attard are very familiar with both systems. From 2007 to 2013, Olsen served as the director of the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, and Attard worked as San Jose’s independent police auditor for four years.
The Seattle Police Department is supervised by a civilian director, an auditor, and civilian review board. The civilian director oversees police detectives who investigate public complaints of police misconduct and practices, while an independent auditor also has the authority to review all complaint cases. In addition, a civilian review board, made up of seven members, reaches out to the community about police accountability issues and reviews the operation of the city’s accountability system.
In San Jose, police oversight is broken down into two independent parts. A complaint filed against officers is first investigated by the police department’s internal affairs unit and an oversight auditor reviews the department’s analysis of the complaint to ensure that it is objective and not biased. If the independent auditor finds something wrong with their analysis, he or she brings it up to the internal affairs unit and discusses their disagreements.
The two police oversight systems will be one of many to be included in the Olson’s and Attard’s report. The consultants will arrive in Pasadena later this month and plan on completing their report by March. They will bring their study before the Public Safety Committee, which will hold public hearings about police oversight. In addition, Olson and Attard will also hold community meetings to discuss police oversight models and receive their input.
Councilmember John Kennedy, who is also chair of the Public Safety Committee, is very supportive of the study. He first recommended the idea in 2013 as a member of the committee and has suggested it several times since. In an interview with Pasadena Now, he praised Olson.
“From what I have learned, she appears to be eminently qualified for her work for the City Council and for the city,” Kennedy told Pasadena Now. “I know she is widely respected.”
Dale Gronemeier, the attorney who represents Kendrec McDade’s mother and who is a critic of the Pasadena Police Department, also approves of the city’s hire of Olson and Attard.
“We’re very pleased by this selection,” Gronemeier told Pasadena Now. “Both of them have substantial hands-on experience functioning as police monitors. You couldn’t ask for two people who could perform the roles better than these two.”