From Common Ground:

After many years of waiting, Vallejo is taking a historic step forward. In December, the Vallejo City Council voted 6-1 to approve a Police Accountability and Oversight Ordinance. Common Ground celebrates this win for the Vallejo community!

Common Ground has worked for over two years to gain community and city support for independent, civilian oversight that will help make the Vallejo Police Department more transparent, accountable, and responsive to the community it serves. Common Ground was founded in 2013, and from its earliest meetings, concerns about public safety and relationships with law enforcement were shared through the stories and personal experiences of families in churches, unions, and non-profits across Vallejo. In January 2020, Common Ground formed a Public Safety Team, focused at first on establishing a mobile mental health crisis unit. In June 2020, the team expanded its focus to address the entrenched distrust between police and the Vallejo community. The team researched  police oversight models in a number of cities nationwide, spoke to subject matter experts and engaged in multiple conversations with City of Vallejo council members, Police Chief Shawny Williams, representatives from the offices of the City Attorney and City Manager, and with groups and individuals who are interested in improving public safety in Vallejo.  

Common Ground’s Public Safety team is made up of individuals representing the faith community, labor, law, and education.  The number of hours the public safety committee spent conducting research, organizing and attending meetings and drafting the ordinance is difficult to calculate.  The result is a strong ordinance that takes into account  community input, diverse models, expert opinions and legal requirements or limitations at the national, state and local levels. 

With the passage of this ordinance:

  • No longer will the police investigate themselves. Serious police incidents will be automatically investigated by an independent investigator, who will have subpoena power.
  • For the first time, there will be a Vallejo Police Commission, made up of residents across the city, with the power to review all complaints and investigative reports, and make recommendations on discipline of officers. The Chief must receive and consider the Commission’s recommendations on discipline before imposing any discipline as a result of a serious incident.
  • This Police Commission will be able to receive complaints directly from members of the community, including anonymous complaints, and recommend independent investigations.
  • In addition, the Commission will be able to review all new police department policies and revisions to existing policy before they take effect, and can recommend new policies and training for officers.
  • Commissioners will receive substantial training and preparation for this role prior to taking action.
  • There will be a third level of accountability: an Independent Police Auditor, whose job will be to be present at the scene of all serious incidents, to be present at interviews of witnesses during investigations, to review all investigative reports and provide recommendations to the Commission and the Police Chief. The selection of this person will include multiple stakeholders, appointed by the City Manager in consultation with the Police Commission, and approved by the city council. 
  • This will all be happening in public, with public documents, public meetings, and public trainings available to the community.

The new Vallejo Police Oversight and Accountability ordinance will put in place three elements of police oversight: Independent Investigations, a police commission, and an Independent Auditor (IPA).  None of these previously existed in Vallejo; it was the police chief, the VPOA, the city attorney, and the city manager who had authority (with limited council influence) over the Vallejo Police Department.

The new community oversight will result in greater trust, transparency, and accountability.  

Congratulations, members, friends, and allies of Common Ground! 

Read more about the ordinance and Common Ground's work on it here:


Common Ground is a broad-based, non-partisan organization of diverse religious, labor, and non-profit organizations in Solano and Napa Counties working to build strong relationships within and across our communities; equip our members with leadership and organizing skills; and act powerfully together on concrete issues facing our communities.

Common Ground is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the nation’s oldest and largest leadership development and broad-based organizing network.