City Manager Releases Open Letter to Public On Office of Independent Review Report

Fresno, CA – City Manager Mark Scott today released the following open letter to the public about the 2010 annual report of the Office of Independent Review:

“I am looking forward to Monday's release of the OIR's Annual Report for 2010. I regret my failure to get this report published earlier, but I am eager to clear the record on what has transpired.

“Regrettably, my delay in releasing the report has led to speculation that the report includes information that would embarrass the Police Department. That is unfair and inaccurate. The report does make findings and recommendations to improve our operation, but there is nothing substantive in Independent Reviewer Eddie Aubrey's unedited report that I am at all reluctant to share with the public.

“So why has it taken so long to release this report? I found the 74-page report very hard to read, and I spent what I now realize was far too much time trying to help Mr. Aubrey present it more effectively. I believe strongly in the OIR function and felt it was my duty to try to present the report in readable fashion. However, the last call on edits has always been Mr. Aubrey's. At this late date, he and I both agreed it is best if we just release the report as originally presented to me. I will issue my own side memo to highlight Mr. Aubrey's key findings and discuss our plans for the future.

“On Monday, we will present Mr. Aubrey's Annual Report. It will be issued with absolutely no edits from me or anyone else at City Hall. It will be published exactly as Mr. Aubrey originally wrote it unless he chooses to correct the punctuation errors. In my comments to Mr. Aubrey, I made many suggestions, ranging from typos and punctuation, to format and flow of the report. I questioned the intended meaning of many unclear comments and suggested that he make stronger statements on at least two of his primary findings. All of my comments (probably a couple hundred of them) were made by handwritten note and will be posted on the City's website so that the public can see that there was never any effort on my part to eliminate or alter the intent of a single finding or recommendation in Mr. Aubrey's report.

“I hope the public will read this Annual Report. I advise readers to start with the 25 Internal Audit Summaries included in Appendix B of the report because it will make it easier to understand the context within which the report's 50+ recommendations are made. The report says the Police Department does a credible, professional job. It also says that improvements are possible.

“There is little discussion in the report concerning Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS) investigations because most of them are incomplete, pending receipt of District Attorney final reports. In my suggestions to Mr. Aubrey, I proposed that we move forward on our OIS reports without the DA reports. I do not believe they are coming soon; therefore, it is important that we complete our investigations, with appropriate caveats. We need to finish those reports in fairness to complainants, victims and their families, suspects and their families, and certainly to our officers and their families.

“Mayor Swearengin and I are determined to find funding to reinstate the full OIR function in next year's budget. We believe it is important in establishing trust between the public and the Police function.

“We are committed to a policy of transparency with the public, and to that end, I once again accept criticism of the delay in publishing the 2010 annual report. I accept that responsibility.”

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