The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors moved today to appeal a June ruling by the state’s Public Employment Relations Board concerning Measure P, the voter-approved initiative to strengthen oversight of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
The measure was was ruled void by the four-person PERB, upholding a charge of unfair labor practices by the Sonoma County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association. With today’s vote, which was held in closed session, the supervisors okay a counter-suit with the California Courts of Appeal.
“The County feels strongly that the PERB decision is clearly erroneous as a matter of law and contrary to the public’s interests,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Board of Supervisors.
Passed in November 2020 with 64.7 percent of the vote, Measure P gave the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach new authority to investigate potential wrongdoing, post body-worn camera video and make discipline recommendations.
Sheriff Mark Essick was adamantly opposed to the increased oversight by an civilian body. The specific elements of the case to PERB, though, focused on labor bargaining and negotiating — the so-called ‘meet and confer’ rules.
Supervisors stressed that PERB’s decision did not invalidate Measure P. Rather the decision directs the County to halt efforts to apply those specific amendments subject to bargaining.
“The County is committing to sitting down with DSA and SCLEA representatives to explore resolution,” Hopkins said. “We’re hopeful that we will be able to complete this process in a way that preserves the integrity of the oversight infrastructure that voters approved overwhelmingly last fall and have it implemented as soon as possible.”
While appealing the ruling to the, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to continue with the development of operational protocols between the IOLERO and the Sheriff’s Office as called for in Measure P. Hopkins said the process includes meeting with all bargaining units that will be covered by the protocols, including the unions which filed the original unfair labor practice complaints with PERB.
The County has until July 23, 2021 to formally appeal the PERB decision, which was issued on June 23.