23 to watch in 2023: John Alden, director of the Sonoma County Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach

John Alden was appointed director of Sonoma County’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach, the civilian watchdog agency charged with oversight of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.|

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

Name: John Alden

Title or position: Director of the Sonoma County Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach

On the job since: September 2022

Age: 51

Hometown: Cincinnati

Why is John Alden someone to watch:

John Alden heads Sonoma County’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach, or IOLERO. The civilian review agency handles audits and investigations into complaints against the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, as well as deputy-involved uses of force. It also proposes recommendations to improve the agency’s relationship with the community.

One of Alden’s goals is to move forward with the voter-approved Measure P, which was designed to expand IOLERO’s ability to conduct investigations related to the Sheriff’s Office. Measure P provides the watchdog agency with oversight powers of the Sheriff’s Office and whistleblower components, “which are features you don’t see in very many other places,” Alden said.

Although approved by voters in 2020, Measure P was challenged by Sheriff’s Office employee unions and court battles prevented it from going into effect until this year. Supporters say a weakened version of Measure P resulted in an agreement between Sonoma County and the unions.

Alden believes that, for the foreseeable future, Sonoma County residents are more interested in Measure P and the impact it will have on local law enforcement oversight, rather than what his vision is for IOLERO as a watchdog agency. Still, he said, one of his goals is to pursue conversation between law enforcement and the community to ensure transparency and accountability are maintained to the satisfaction of the public.

What others are saying about John Alden:

“From the experience I had working with John, I’d say he’s taking the approach of being very open-minded and evaluative of everything that involves IOLERO and things the CAC has been conducting as well. It’s a new person taking a look at everything involved with the Sheriff’s Office and community and . It helps to get that new perspective on things, and he asks a lot of questions. He knows the importance of this department and community, and I think he’ll be a big voice and advocate for the role he’s in,” said Lorena Barrera, vice chair of IOLERO’s Community Advisory Council.

What Alden says about making the list:

“I’ve been doing law enforcement oversight for almost 14 years now, and I think sheriff oversight is the next frontier for California for that work. So it’s really exciting to be in a place where Sonoma County is ahead of just everybody else in the state on how to do that, as a leading example of how to have oversight of the Sheriff’s Office.“

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

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

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