The Office of Independent Review was established by the Board of Supervisors in 2008 in order to “monitor, assist, oversee and advise” the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department (OCSD) in its handling of critical incidents and allegations of employee misconduct. The fundamental responsibility of the OIR is to ensure that the OCSD response to these matters is thorough, fair, and effective.
Who is the Director of the OIR?
Stephen J. Connolly is the Executive Director of the Office of Independent Review. He began his work with OIR in September of 2008. Connolly's primary role is to monitor all complaint cases and critical incidents from beginning to end. He works closely with Internal Affairs personnel and Department executives in tracking investigations and offering recommendations about outcomes. Mr. Connolly states, "My job is to make sure - from a front row seat - that the Department's own review systems are working the way they're supposed to, and that problems are being fixed. Ideally, OIR will give the public a better understanding of the Department, and more confidence in how it handles things." Mr. Connolly is an attorney and a graduate of Loyola Law School.
Over whom does the OIR have jurisdiction?
The Office of Independent Review does not maintain any jurisdiction, but takes a "start to finish" approach to new complaint cases. OIR reviews the Department's initial routing of the complaint, and then follows the investigation process for those allegations that are substantive enough to warrant a formal administrative case. It meets with and advises investigators as cases are being handled, it reviews cases for completeness, and it makes recommendations to OCSD decision-makers as to final outcomes. The handling OIR attorney works to achieve consensus with OCSD regarding the resolution of each case. While OIR does not seek to substitute its judgement for that of OCSD, it does try to ensure that its perspective is understood, and that the Department's decision is reasonable and appropriate for the circumstances. While OIR has no structural authority to compel a particular result, it can share its impressions of the Department's actions with the Board, the media, and the public, and can do so from a position of detailed knowledge.
To whom does the OIR report?
The OIR reports directly to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. The Executive Director of OIR will provide quarterly status reports to the Board of Supervisors "on all investigations and significant matters within the purview of OIR." Additionally, OIR anticipates providing written reports to the Board to address the outcome of individual matters relating to OIR oversight responsibilities. Some of these reports may be confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege; in other instances, the Board may choose to release the reports in a manner consistent with state law and the privacy rights of involved parties.
OIR intends to communicate with the public in a variety of ways, including participation in public forums, direct correspondence with individual members of the public, and published reports. The OIR website will provide information to the public about Departmental systems, including the discipline process. Ideally, this reporting will promote increased understanding and public confidence in the relevant systems themselves.
Who do I call to find out the status of a case currently under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department?
South Orange County 949.425.1900
North Orange County (Villa Park/Unincorporated areas)
West Orange County (Stanton)
Will OIR handle my complaint?
OIR is available as an intake mechanism for private individuals who have a concern or complaint about OCSD. OIR provides information and guidance to the public regarding Departmental processes and procedures, and monitors all cases that are ultimately referred to the Department for further actions. The OIR does not conduct its own investigations and recommends an individual complete a Personnel Complaint form at OCSD.org or in person at the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
OIR also coordinates with various public and private groups outside the Department to ensure that relevant issues are identified and addressed. These entities include key groups within County government (Board of Supervisors, County Counsel, District Attorney, County Executive Office, Human Resources, Human Relations Commission), employee unions, relevant federal agencies, and various community-based groups and individuals.