The County of Sonoma and labor groups representing county law enforcement employees have reached a deal to abide by Measure P, the voter-approved 2020 ballot measure that called for stronger law enforcement oversight.
The agreement expands the authority of the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO). It comes after more than a year of negotiations between the county and the Sonoma County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (DSA) and Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association (SCLEA).
Together, the unions represent 758 county employees.
Sonoma County voters overwhelmingly approved Measure P in November 2020, expanding IOLERO’s powers and signaling a strong desire for greater law enforcement oversight.
But before the approved measure went into effect, the associations argued that the county violated their members’ collective bargaining rights by failing to “meet and confer” with the two unions about the changes, pursuant to state labor law. The state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) agreed, and voided several provisions of the measure.
With the new agreement, PERB has vacated that ruling. The county can now, it said in a statement, “implement the voters’ will, ensure that IOLERO’s expanded authority represents smart and effective law enforcement oversight, and treat the associations’ members fairly.”
Supervisor James Gore, chair of the Board of Supervisors, said, “The county is pleased that this agreement affirms the will of the voters regarding IOLERO’s expanded powers and duties while also recognizing the associations’ legitimate interests and statutory rights in negotiating over those powers and duties. The parties’ collaborative efforts produced a comprehensive, effective and responsible agreement governing the implementation of Measure P.”
Cody Ebert, president of the Sonoma County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, said: “As law enforcement professionals, the DSA’s members understand that effective law enforcement depends on the community’s trust. The DSA is proud to have partnered with the county and SCLEA to make sure new law enforcement oversight measures are both effective at building and maintaining the community’s trust, and fair to the deputies putting their lives on the line for the public’s safety.”
Commenting for the SCLA, President Damian Evans, said: “SCLEA supports law enforcement oversight. The agreement strikes the right balance between increased transparency and oversight and fair and consistent investigatory procedures for the affected Correctional Deputies, Sergeants and Dispatchers. We are encouraged that the county, IOLERO, SCLEA and the DSA can move forward together to better serve the citizens of Sonoma County.”
The Board of Supervisors established the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach in 2015 to strengthen the relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and the community it serves. The agency reviews complaints against the Sheriff’s Office, makes policy recommendations and conducts community outreach.
The Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association represents approximately 529 county employees in corrections, criminal investigations, probation services, juvenile justice, parks and fire services. The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association represents approximately 229 deputies and sergeants in the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.