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Sonoma Measure P: Expanding County Sheriff's Oversight

Paul Sullivan
Creative Commons
A Sonoma County Sheriff pick-up truck parked at the corner of Franklin and Embarcadero Streets in Oakland.


This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.

Sonoma County Measure P would expand oversight of the County Sheriff. The current oversight office was established in 2015 after 13 year old Andy Lopez was killed by a sheriff's deputy in Santa Rosa. This year, killings by police have motivated five California jurisdictions to put changes to law enforcement oversight on the ballot.

Here’s some of the major things that would happen if Measure P passes: The office would have new powers to look into complaints - like auditing racial profiling data, and subpoenaing records and witnesses. 

The office’s funding would change too. Instead of money coming from the City's general fund, it would come from the Sheriff - and would be required to be at least 1% of the Sheriff’s total budget. This might not sound like much, but the change would more than double the oversight office’s current funding.  

The Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick does not like Measure P. He’s requested $50,000 from the Sheriff’s budget to explore legal challenges. The Sheriff says the measure is illegal because state law guarantees the sheriff’s office is independent. He says the measure will immediately be challenged in court if it’s passed. The measure is also opposed by the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association.

Supporters say Measure P doesn't threaten the sheriff’s independence because the oversight office can only make suggestions. The ACLU agrees. Supporters say that Measure P will increase transparency and build a better relationship between the community and law enforcement. The measure is supported by the local NAACP and the Sonoma County Democratic Party.

So, if you think the office that oversees and advises the County Sheriff should have more authority and resources to conduct it’s investigations, vote yes on Measure P. If you think the oversight office should stay as it is, vote no.


Annelise was born and raised in the East Bay and has a background in oral history and urban studies. For the last four and half years, she's worked as a criminal defense investigator at a public defenders office in the Bronx, New York and at an appellate defenders office in the Bay Area. As an investigator, she frequently interviews people involved in different parts of the criminal punishment system. Through her work, she has become passionate about the power of personal narratives and compelling stories to increase cross-cultural understanding and initate change.