Chapter 2.17


2.17.010    Establishment—Purpose.

2.17.020    Independent contractor.

2.17.030    Duties.

2.17.040    Cooperation—Access to information.

2.17.050    Confidentiality of information.

2.17.060    Conformity with applicable law—Severability.

2.17.010 Establishment—Purpose.

(A)    The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) is hereby established. The purpose of the OIG is to monitor, inspect, and report to the Board of Supervisors on specified aspects of the operations of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, as set forth below. The OIG’s contract shall be administratively supervised by the County Administrative Officer.

(B)    The OIG is established to further the County’s goals of providing transparency and accountability in government services and enhancing public safety. These goals require a law enforcement system that is committed to continuous improvement of policing practices and custody conditions; that promotes the health and safety of community members, inmates, and law enforcement/corrections personnel; and that protects the rights of inmates and others in a manner that exceeds the requirements of State and Federal law.

(C)    Through its monitoring and reporting functions, the OIG will help foster transparency and accountability; identify unmet needs and service gaps; encourage timely and serious consideration of complaints; and provide independent review of serious incidents involving County personnel. Through its research and policy recommendation functions, the OIG will continuously and proactively recommend improvements in custody and law enforcement practices, policies, and services; update the Sheriff’s Office on developments in best practices; and identify trends that require changes in policy or practice. It is the intent of the Board that these functions will assist the Sheriff’s Office in achieving and maintaining a culture and level of services that align with County values.

(D)    The OIG shall not exercise administrative oversight or authority, or otherwise manage or direct operations, of the Sheriff’s Office. [Ord. 5418 § 1, 2022].

2.17.020 Independent contractor.

(A)    The County shall contract with an independent entity to perform the functions of the OIG as an independent contractor. The relationship between the OIG and the County shall be solely contractual; the OIG shall be an independent contractor and under no circumstances shall the OIG be treated as an employee of the County.

(B)    The Board shall set the terms and conditions of the OIG’s engagement, including duration and termination, by contract.

(C)    The contract shall set terms and conditions for the sharing of confidential County information with the OIG and for the preservation of confidentiality. [Ord. 5418 § 1, 2022].

2.17.030 Duties.

(A)    Consistent with the Board of Supervisors’ authority to supervise the official conduct of the Sheriff under Government Code Section 25303, the OIG is created to promote the common interest of the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff in efficient, lawful, and effective policing, and to facilitate the Board of Supervisors’ responsibility without interfering with the Sheriff’s investigative functions. The OIG shall focus on matters relevant to Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures and shall not interfere with criminal, personnel, and other investigations by the Sheriff.

(B)    The OIG shall provide independent monitoring of, and reporting about, the Sheriff’s Office related to law enforcement, jail operations, jail facilities, and the employees and contractors involved with law enforcement and jail operations, including the provision of health services in the jails, as set forth in this chapter.

(C)    To the maximum extent allowed by law, the OIG shall be responsible for:

(1)    Monitoring the Sheriff’s Office law enforcement and jail operations, the conditions of confinement in the jails, the provision of health services in the jails, the use of force in law enforcement operations and jails, compliance with civil rights laws, and the Sheriff’s Office’s response to inmate and public complaints related to law enforcement, jail operations, or conditions of confinement, including the provision of services to inmates and the conduct of employees, contractors, volunteers, and others who provide such services.

(2)    Monitoring matters relevant to the provision of jail medical services.

(3)    Regularly conducting research and making policy recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff, and the County Administrative Officer regarding law enforcement practices.

(4)    Periodically reviewing the Sheriff’s Office use of force patterns, trends, and statistics, the Sheriff’s investigations of use of force incidents and allegations of misconduct, and the Sheriff’s Office’s disciplinary decisions. As it pertains to uniformed personnel, the OIG shall monitor and review investigations of incidents involving, but not limited to: any shooting involving uniformed personnel, whether duty-related or not; any in-custody death; any duty-related incident during which, or as a result of which, a person dies or suffers serious bodily injury; any incident, whether or not duty-related, in which uniformed personnel are under investigation for, or charged with, homicide, assault, kidnapping, or unlawful sexual behavior; or any incident, whether duty-related or not, in which uniformed personnel are under investigation for, or are charged by any jurisdiction with, a crime or violation in which a use of force or threatened use of force is an element of the offense.

(5)    As it pertains to jail medical services, monitoring and reviewing investigations of incidents involving any in-custody death; any duty-related incident during which, or as a result of which, any inmate suffers serious bodily injury; or any serious neglect of inmates as it pertains to their mental and physical health.

(6)    Reviewing the quality of audits and inspections conducted by the Sheriff’s Office and conducting its own periodic audits and inspections of the Sheriff’s Office consistent with professional guidelines for the conduct of such audits. It is the intent of the Board that the OIG should supplement, not supplant, internal auditing and monitoring conducted by the Sheriff’s Office.

(7)    Regularly communicating with the public, the Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff’s Office, and the County Administrative Officer regarding the operations of the Sheriff’s Office.

(8)    Investigating specific incidents involving Sheriff’s Office personnel when requested by, or with the authorization of, the Sheriff.

(9)    Investigating specific incidents involving jail medical services when requested by the Board or the County Administrative Officer. [Ord. 5418 § 1, 2022].

2.17.040 Cooperation—Access to information.

(A)    The Sheriff’s Office, the County’s contracted service providers, and all other County agencies and departments shall cooperate with the OIG and promptly supply information or records requested by the OIG, including, to the extent permitted by law, confidential peace officer personnel records, inmate medical and mental health records, and related records as necessary for the OIG to carry out its duties. It is the intent of the Board of Supervisors that the OIG shall have access to information and cooperation from County departments and County contractors under this section to the greatest extent permitted by law.

(B)    The OIG shall establish written protocols with the Sheriff’s Office and the County Administrative Office to maintain, access, and disclose confidential information under this chapter. The written protocols shall be reviewed and approved by County Counsel.

(C)    Pursuant to Government Code Sections 25303.7 and 53060.4, the OIG may issue a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum to obtain information lawfully accessible by the OIG and required for the performance of its responsibilities. Prior to issuing any subpoena, the OIG shall make good faith efforts to obtain the required information on a voluntary basis, consistent with subsections (A) and (B) of this section, and shall consider reasonable alternatives proposed by the party holding the information. If, after such efforts, the OIG deems it necessary to issue a subpoena to obtain required information and enforce the provisions of this chapter, it may prepare a subpoena, with the advice and approval of County Counsel, in accordance with Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1985 to 1985.4. Any such subpoena shall be served and enforced as provided in Government Code Section 25303.7. [Ord. 5418 § 1, 2022].

2.17.050 Confidentiality of information.

(A)    The confidentiality of peace officer personnel records, inmate medical and mental health records, other protected health information of inmates, and all other privileged or confidential information received by the OIG in connection with the discharge of its duties shall be safeguarded and maintained by the OIG as required by law, including Penal Code Section 832.7, the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (Government Code Section 3300 et seq.), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as necessary to maintain any applicable privileges or the confidentiality of the information.

(B)    The County Counsel shall work with the OIG to establish a process that enables the sharing of confidential information with appropriate County officials and entities in accordance with applicable law, when it is determined by the OIG that there is a need to share such information. Except as otherwise required by law or provided in the contract with the OIG, the OIG shall not disclose to any non-County entity any confidential information. [Ord. 5418 § 1, 2022].

2.17.060 Conformity with applicable law—Severability.

(A)    The OIG shall not have any supervisory, administrative, managerial, operational, or other authority over the functions or personnel of the Sheriff’s Office. In addition, at no time shall the OIG interfere with the independent constitutional and statutory authority of the Sheriff, including the Sheriff’s investigative functions. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, all provisions of this chapter shall be interpreted to be consistent with this subsection and all applicable Federal, State, and local laws governing such conduct, including provisions regarding the confidentiality of peace officer and health records.

(B)    Complaints received by the OIG relating to specific conduct of peace officers shall be referred, with the permission of the complainant (unless such complaint is anonymous), to the Sheriff’s Office for action pursuant to Penal Code Section 832.5. Complaints received by the OIG relating to issues involving the jail shall be referred, with permission of the complainant (unless such complaint is anonymous), to the Chief Deputy of the Corrections Bureau for action.

(C)    The OIG shall accept anonymous complaints and shall consider all such complaints in evaluating policies and practices, developing recommendations, and making reports under this chapter. The OIG shall clearly inform the public of its policies and procedures regarding anonymous complaints.

(D)    This chapter and all of its provisions are severable. Should any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this chapter be declared by a court to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the chapter as a whole, or any portion thereof, other than the portion declared to be unconstitutional or invalid. [Ord. 5418 § 1, 2022].