The Santa Rosa City Council approved OIR Group LLC as the Independent Police Auditor at their Nov. 30, 2021 council meeting. Reporting to the City Manager, OIR Group LLC will review Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) internal investigations, conduct audits of policies, practices and records, conduct community outreach, and annually prepare and present a report to the Public Safety Subcommittee and City Council.
The OIR Group LLC has 15 years of experience evaluating police shootings, in-custody deaths, and other critical incidents. They have responded to more than 400 shooting scenes and have observed and consulted on investigations in real-time. As part of the agreement, OIR has contracted with Brian Corr as an equity consultant, to maintain understanding in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion while carrying out its functions.
The OIR Group LLC consists of a team of five principals, led by former federal civil rights prosecutor Michael Gennaco, who is a nationally recognized expert on law enforcement reform and accountability systems. He was the Chief Attorney of the Office of Independent Review for Los Angeles County and is a founding Principal of OIR Group. Teresa Magula began her work in oversight with the Inspector General’s Office for the Los Angeles Police Department and has been with the OIR group since 2017. Samara Marion recently joined the OIR group after retiring from a career with the San Francisco Department of Police Accountability, the oversight entity for the San Francisco Police Department. Stephen Connolly has been a Principal with OIR Group since 2001 and was an original member of the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review. Julie Ruhlin has been a Principal with OIR Group since 2006 and was a Deputy Chief Attorney for the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review.
In 2020, the City of Santa Rosa contracted with the OIR Group to provide an independent report on SRPD’s internal investigations related to protest activities that occurred in May and June of 2020. The City found the firm to be professional and thorough in the final report that was presented to the City Council in May of 2021. They demonstrated both expertise and knowledge about a complex subject matter addressing a difficult period in the city’s history.
“Having an independent police auditor is an opportunity to promote authentic community engagement with law enforcement,” explains Public Safety Subcommittee Chair Council Member Victoria Fleming. “When there is true independence and transparency, our residents have greater trust in our peace officers. When our community trusts our police, it is easier and safer for these public servants to do what they do best: protect and serve.”
About the Search for a Police Auditor:
The City of Santa Rosa began the process to secure a new independent police auditor following the departure in 2019 of the previous independent police auditor, Palo Alto attorney Bob Aaronson. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and other local emergencies, the process was delayed until 2020, at which time community interest was renewed during the George Floyd protests.
A Request for Proposal process to seek applicants for the position of Independent Police Auditor was issued on June 17, 2021, and closed on July 12, 2021. 142 vendors were notified of the opportunity through the bidding platform, of which 14 downloaded the documents and identified themselves as potential bidders. Two proposals were received and were scored independently by a selection committee that determined both proposers should move forward to an interview to provide additional information. The selection committee determined unanimously to move forward with the OIR Group due to their expertise and past performance.