Mar 30, 2017
By Evelina Molina
The Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO) was established by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in 2015. IOLERO was borne out of the tragic shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus in Sonoma County in 2013.
This unfortunate event ruptured relations between some parts of the Sonoma County community and law enforcement. Sonoma County government responded by establishing an extremely robust community engagement process to study options for healing community rifts, and building greater resiliency for the future. One proposal that came from that process was establishing a new, independent county office charged both with civilian review of law enforcement and outreach to and education of the community.
That principle could also, it turns out, be applied to the effects of Federal programs, especially fear-driven ones such as recent Executive Orders expanding deportations.
In cities and counties across America, studies show that when the federal government partners with state and local law enforcement agencies to “enforce civil and criminal immigration violations,” you end up with a measurable drop in civic engagement, and an increased sense of vulnerability to crime. Communities, in short, feel less safe, less secure when a significant percentage of their population is driven into hiding.
At last evening’s meeting of Community Advisory Council (CAC) Sonoma County’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review & Outreach (IOLERO), Council Member Rick Brown cited these research results, and his shared viewpoint that “there is less engagement when law enforcement is in complete cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)”, and when that cooperation is limited, “you have more trust, more eyes on the street.”