The second community meeting to discuss qualifications for a new leader of the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board drew the same number of participants as the first: One. Tuesday night’s meeting was held in District 5, which includes Cole Valley, the Haight and the Western Addition.
The meeting, originally scheduled for two hours, was adjourned after barely half that time. In the first hour, the six board members in attendance — Xóchitl Carrión was missing — had an in-depth, 35-minute discussion with one audience member.
The nascent Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board, approved by San Francisco voters, is in the process of hiring its first Inspector General to lead the office overseeing the conduct of sheriff’s deputies.
Speaking over sounds from the nearby basketball court, the six board members introduced themselves to an empty room. Every few minutes, the lights, which were triggered by motion sensors, would dim, forcing the board members to wave their arms to relight them, even as they offered reminders about future venues and times for the next three meetings.
Almost 15 minutes into the meeting, Jayson Wechter, the board’s president, announced a 10-minute recess to await the arrival of participants. Just then, Maxine Anderson, the evening’s savior, arrived.
As the meeting resumed, the board members introduced themselves again, this time with more color and detail.
Anderson, who identified herself as a resident of District 5 and a director for the League of Women Voters of California, asked about the board’s vision for the Inspector General. The board members responded one by one, offering answers which mentioned fairness, morality, commitment, respectfulness, experience in working with various communities, and “understanding this role is gonna be difficult,” but not giving up.
“You are here for the long haul,” Anderson said.
Not for the first time, silence fell over the room just as the lights went out. In response, the board members waved their arms as if grasping for a lifeline.
Tuesday’s meeting in Japantown was the second of five community meetings seeking input from the public to “make sure people of San Francisco get the inspector they deserve,” said Wechter.
The lack of attendance was clearly anticipated. Unlike the previous meeting, which left virtually the whole Bayview Opera House empty, this one was held in a classroom inside Hamilton Recreation Center, where only eight chairs were prepared for participants.
Though Anderson offered comments every few minutes, as the meeting hit the hour mark, everyone seemed to be running out of words. Still, Anderson was glad to have attended.
“I wish there were more people from the community. I think it’s a matter of getting the word out,” she said in an interview after the meeting. But, “it doesn’t bother me at all. I had to say what I had to say. I got a chance to do it.”
Still, according to Wechter, the poor attendance wasn’t simply the result of negligence. “I’ve been sending notices out to the press, and to aides of all the supervisors, asking them to disseminate it to their constituents,” he said. Still, he said, with a tight budget, future meetings will not be providing snacks.
Six board members were present at the meeting: Jayson Wechter, Julie Soo, Ovava Eterei Afuhaamango, Dion-Jay Brookter, Michael Nguyen, William Monroe Palmer. Xóchitl Carrión was present by phone due to a family emergency.
An official job posting regarding the Inspector General of the Sheriff’s Office of Inspector General has been published. Interested parties can apply online by April 24. The candidate selected will be expected to investigate complaints against the Sheriff’s Office employees or contractors, and will receive an annual salary between $151,918 and $224,484.