Full-time director of Sonoma County police watchdog named, to be confirmed Tuesday

John Alden will replace Garrick Byers, who’d been interim director since January.|

A former Sonoma County prosecutor has been appointed director of the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.

John Alden’s appointment is scheduled to be confirmed to the post Tuesday during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting, the county announced Thursday.

He’ll replace Garrick Byers, who’d been interim director after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed the previous full-time director, Karlene Navarro, to the Sonoma County Superior Court bench.

Alden has more than 13 years of experience leading and managing civilian oversight agencies, according to the county. The watchdog agency reviews public complaints and audits internal investigations involving the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am looking forward to working with the community and the Sheriff’s Office to foster accountability, transparency, and communication,” Alden said in a statement.

He was chosen following a nationwide search for a permanent director. The process included community surveys to gauge what area residents wanted in a director.

His annual salary will be $189,093, according to the county.

Alden was a Sonoma County deputy district attorney in 1997 before working for the Marin County District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division.

He later became the managing district attorney for San Francisco’s Independent Investigations Bureau. He managed a unit that investigated criminal cases involving alleged police misconduct.

Alden most recently was executive director at the Oakland Community Police Review Agency, where he led independent investigations of allegations of police misconduct.

“John Alden brings extensive oversight experience to the county’s IOLERO office at a crucial time, and we’re excited to see the ideas and vision that he will be bringing to the position,” Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore said in a statement.

The county’s law enforcement oversight agency was formed by the Board of Supervisors in 2016 following the 2013 fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

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