Pomona Presses for Police Oversight and Monitoring
By Dianne Anderson
An alleged headlight stop in the days of his youth along with countless other police misconduct cases still drives Donovan Caver to fight the broken system.
While he was in college, Pomona police pulled him over on his 21st birthday.
“They asked me where’s the dope? I said sir, I don’t have any dope. They slammed my face on my hood, and they searched my car. They arrested me on my birthday,” said Caver, a member of Black Lives Matter Inland Empire.
His family is also no stranger to police violence.
“Police killed my great-granddad, they shot my cousin,” said Caver, 33, who grew up between Pomona and Ontario.
To say that Caver is pessimistic that change can come without a radical overhaul is an understatement.
One constant example of Driving While Black happened about six months ago as he was leaving a Pomona fish market and saw police had a Black man down at curbside. He grabbed his cell phone and started recording. He said the police then changed course.
“Something didn’t sit right with it. I put my fish down and started recording it and I saw them searching his car, and he yells record this,” he said. “They let him go. If I didn’t pull the camera out when they were searching his car, would they have ‘found’ drugs?”
Pomona City Council approved the No Knock Warrant ban unanimously on February 1.
Last June, Caver was also arrested with others peacefully protesting the Lawrence Bender case in front of the San Bernardino courthouse, known as the “IE 11.” In all, he said the sheriff’s arrested 15 BLM IE members and protest participants.
Caver feels that one approach that might work is using independent prosecutors with no bias or affiliation with the sheriff’s department.
But of all the methods to change the system, he believes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holds the best model of success.
“If you talk about solutions, we have to look back at the framework of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s most successful campaigns were strikes and boycotts, they were economics. He made sure wherever they were going to strike, he’d shut down a bridge. That was strategic,” said Caver.
Civil Law attorney Francisco Suarez has represented numerous police brutality and misconduct cases in the area. In the past six months, he said there have been three fatal police shootings in the city.
“We just feel that we’ve got to put a stop to it. We have a coalition named after the codes to protect to police, Police Oversight Starts Today Coalition. It’s [acronym] mocking POST California law,” he said.
The coalition is pushing for independent civilian oversight of the Pomona Police Department.
Every ten years, he said a review commission looks at the city charter, but this time around, he and other advocates are proposing to establish a commission with subpoena power to monitor the police department.
“There’s been a lot of problems in Pomona with the police and they always get away with it, so we’re really hoping to put this on the ballot,” he said.
Suarez said the group Police Oversight Starts Today proposes subpoena power to compel the department to hand over any relevant information that is needed.
“Everyone is having problems, not just Pomona, but the unions are constantly fundraising and backing up police,” he said.
To see the case history of Pomona police corruption in Blair V. City of Pomona: https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1296526.html