The day after Jen Louis was appointed police chief amid an ongoing leaked texts investigation, the city’s Police Accountability Board lost two members, one to term limits and the other to frustration with the city’s approach to oversight and Louis’ confirmation.
Cheryl Owens resigned from the board Wednesday, shortly after the board bid farewell to Deborah Levine, whose term has ended. The departures bring the board’s complement to just four members on a nine-seat board, but the City Council will soon consider two nominees.
“I’ve come to sense that there’s no collaboration on any front in this city, nor do I believe there’s a commitment to civilian oversight by the city manager, the city attorney or the chief of police,” Owens said.
The decision to confirm Louis was opposed by some former accountability board members, as well as some who worked on the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force and the former Police Review Commission. The current board previously asked that the city continue to pause Louis’s confirmation until the end of the investigations into allegations of arrest quotas and racist and anti-homeless text messages within the department’s bike unit.
Louis said she and her department were trying to develop a better working relationship with the board, and were listening to community concerns.
“I fully support the importance of accountability in our community, and I do care what the community feels and says and I do value the input and collaboration with the board,” Louis said Wednesday.
Levine was appointed by former Councilmember Lori Droste in June 2021, the same month Owens was appointed by Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani.
Reached for comment Friday, Kesarwani thanked Owens for her service. “I have viewed her comments at the recent meeting and look forward to meeting her soon to better understand her perspective,” Kesarwani said.
Droste’s final term in office ended in December, and board members’ terms end along with those of the councilmembers who appoint them, though they can remain on the board until a successor is appointed.
Droste’s successor in District 8, Mark Humbert, has nominated William “Bill” Williams to the board. In District 5 Councilmember Sophie Hahn has nominated Leah Wilson. More information on the nominees was not immediately available.
Seats for Rigel Robinson’s District 7, for Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s appointee and for a board alternate are also vacant.
The council is scheduled to vote on whether to appoint Williams and Wilson on May 23.