The latest on police-related local ballot measures

Welcome to the Wednesday, June 30, Brew. 

So far this year, Ballotpedia has tracked six certified local police-related ballot measures. We define these to include ballot measures concerning:

  • police oversight, 
  • the powers and structure of oversight commissions, 
  • police practices, 
  • law enforcement department structure and administration, 
  • reductions in or restrictions on law enforcement budgets,
  • law enforcement training requirements, 
  • and body and dashboard camera footage. 

We’re also tracking potential measures later this year in Minneapolis and Cleveland.

Of the six measures already certified, voters approved three and defeated two in elections this spring. One measure is certified for the Aug. 3 ballot in Detroit pending a state supreme court ruling.

Last year, we identified 20 notable police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties that qualified for the ballot after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Voters approved all 20 measures. 

Here’s a quick collection of recent events related to the police-related measures we’re tracking.

One quick note: If you didn’t receive Ballotpedia’s special update yesterday, click here to read about recently enacted legislation in North Carolina that allows municipalities to postpone local elections until next year due to delays in redistricting.

Cleveland Community Police Commission and police oversight initiative faces signature deadline next week 

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections announced on June 25 that proponents of an initiative to amend Cleveland’s charter on police oversight and discipline authority fell several hundred signatures short of the required number. Citizens for a Safer Cleveland has 15 additional days to collect enough valid signatures to make up the difference and qualify the measure for this year’s ballot. 

The initiative would give certain duties and authority over police oversight, investigations, and discipline to a Civilian Police Review Board and a Community Police Commission.

Keep reading 

Michigan Supreme Court to hear arguments on Detroit charter proposal, which includes police policy changes

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments on July 7 over Detroit’s Proposal P that is scheduled to go before voters on Aug. 3. Proposal P would replace Detroit’s charter with a new charter. Among its provisions are several related to police policy.

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether Proposal P requires Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) approval to appear on the ballot. The charter commission that drafted the proposal submitted it to Gov. Whitmer, but she declined to approve it. On June 1, the state supreme court suspended previous circuit and appeals court rulings that blocked the measure from the ballot. 

Keep reading 

California Public Employment Relations Board overturns parts of Sonoma County’s 2020 oversight measure

One week ago, the California Public Employment Relations Board overturned portions of Measure P, a police oversight-related measure that Sonoma County voters approved last November 65% to 35%. The board ruled that certain provisions of Measure P violated the collective bargaining rights of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

The California Public Employment Relations Board is a commission of four gubernatorial appointees that rule on government labor issues. The board said the unions representing county sheriffs should have had the opportunity to negotiate these provisions before they were enacted. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors can appeal the decision to the California First District Court of Appeal, one of the state’s intermediate appellate courts.

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California superior court judge tentatively overturns Los Angeles County measure on law enforcement budget restrictions

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel announced a tentative decision on June 17 to overturn Measure J, which voters approved 57% to 43% last November. Strobel said that Measure J unconstitutionally limits how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can decide revenue allocations. Strobel gave plaintiffs and defendants 15 days to submit more evidence. Strobel said she expected to issue a final ruling within the following weeks.

Measure J, among other provisions, requires that no less than 10% of the county’s general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration, such as health services and pre-trial non-custody services. It also prohibits those funds from being allocated to law enforcement. 

Keep reading