Jerry Threet, the first Director of the Sonoma County Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO), spoke at the September 22 meeting of the Windsor/North County Democratic Club. IOLERO, a new county department, was created in response to the fatal shooting by a Sheriff’s Deputy, Eric Gelhaus, of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, almost three years ago. This tragedy led to public unrest and fractured relations between law enforcement and the community. The Board of Supervisors created the Community and Law Enforcement Task Force which, after considerable work, recommended the establishment of the review and outreach department.
In March, 2016 Mr. Threet was unanimously selected by the Board of Supervisors as the initial Director of IOLERO, following an extensive candidate recruitment process. Over the previous 11 years, Three had been a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Francisco. His work there included consumer protection, community engagement and outreach, and compliance issues regarding public meetings and records.
Since beginning work on April 11, Mr. Threet has worked to create policy and procedure for this new department. An administrative assistant was hired and the two-person department is operating with a $527,000 budget. The work of IOLERO includes accepting complaints of misconduct by law enforcement, but IOLERO’s jurisdiction only includes the Sheriff’s Department and the Town of Windsor and the City of Sonoma. The latter two are included because these municipalities contract with the Sheriff’s Department to supply law enforcement service to those communities.
The office audits the independent investigations by the Sheriff’s Department for thoroughness, fairness, and timeliness. The IOLERO’s review is done after the law enforcement investigation and action by the District Attorney has been completed. The auditor is not included in the law enforcement investigative process.
Another key component of the department will be community engagement. The department will hear the views of the public regarding law enforcement, and facilitate dialogue between the community and law enforcement in order to break down stereotypical barriers. IOLERO will also make recommendations for policy changes to the Sheriff’s Department. A Community Advisory Board will be appointed in mid-October to study and report on law enforcement procedures.
Mr. Threet is realistic and hopeful as he begins the work of this new county department. With officer-involved shootings of minority citizens becoming widely publicized, from Ferguson to Tulsa and Charlotte, communities are demanding more accountability and the reform of law enforcement policies. Secretary Hillary Clinton has made law enforcement reform a feature of her campaign
For more information on IOLERO visit the website at www.sonomacounty.ca.gov/IOLERO.
— Barry Hirsch