City of Merced asks state attorney general to investigate its police department
FRESNO, Calif. — The City of Merced is asking Attorney General Rob Bonta to look into its own police department.
The city manager sent a letter last Friday to Bonta’s office requesting a review of the police department’s policies and procedures. The city council voted in a narrow 4-3 majority to approve the move.
“This is not an attack on officers,” said Councilmember Jesse Ornelas, who is spearheading the effort. “I see this as an opportunity to heal the culture and morale of our police department.”
During the meeting, Ornelas said he’s heard alleged reports of racism and mistreatment by senior law enforcement officials toward officers and community members. Several people spoke during public comment in favor of the review.
While no one at the council refuted Ornelas’s claims, some members did voice concerns about the lack of details that are available on what could be a two-year long process.
Mayor Matthew Serrato said the review could have an impact on the city’s current recruitment of a new police chief.
“The alarm bells will go off. The perception will be that they are coming into something that they can’t control,” Serrato said.
Serratto and council members Shane Smith and Sarah Boyle voted to oppose the study.
The Attorney General's press office told KVPR the request was under review.