MARIN, Calif. (BCN)– Residents in Marin County will be able to weigh in at community meetings this week on a proposed independent oversight committee for the Sheriff’s Office. After years of planning to create an independent oversight committee to oversee the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and never following through with it, the Board of Supervisors may adopt one at the recommendation of a Civil Grand Jury report issued in June.

“I believe that civic dialogue leads to better policy,” said Supervisor Damon Connolly in a statement, adding that creating a sheriff’s oversight board offers a means for that dialogue. The county will be holding the community conversations and taking a survey to gather feedback from residents about their experiences with law enforcement, especially in Marin City, which is policed by the Sheriff’s Office.

The county said it also wants to narrow down priorities for any oversight committee and strategies to enhance law enforcement accountability. Supervisors have allocated funds towards what they are calling the “AB 1185 Sheriff’s Oversight Committee.”

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Assembly Bill 1185 became effective in January and authorizes counties to create a sheriff’s oversight board and/or an office of inspector general, both of which would have subpoena powers. The county Civil Grand Jury submitted a report in June entitled “Sheriff Oversight: The Time is Now,” which called for an independent body to be formed primarily to address issues between the department and the residents of Marin City.

The report took a deep dive into the history of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and Black residents in the county. About 35 percent of Marin City’s residents are either Black or multiracial, according to 2019 numbers cited in the report.

The relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and Black residents of Marin City has not been a good one, the grand jury’s report said. Residents call their town a “training ground” for new deputies and claim that they are overpoliced as a result. Excessive stops, arrests, citations and warnings are routine, Black residents told the grand jury.

The online community meetings are set for Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The first meeting was held on Tuesday and its agenda and meeting materials can be found at https://www.marincounty.org/main/sheriffs-oversight along with a Zoom link to the next two meetings.

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