Aaron B. Zisser was appointed the Independent Police Auditor in September 2017. Born in San Jose and raised in Campbell, Mr. Zisser spent much of his career as a civil rights attorney in Washington, DC, with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Beginning in 2009, he spent four years with the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division, leading complex “pattern or practice” investigations and monitoring of correctional facilities, state psychiatric hospitals, and statewide mental health and disability services systems. Subsequently, in the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division, he led statewide and other large-scale cases addressing discrimination in student discipline based on race and psychiatric disability, racial segregation, and harassment based on sex and race. His work at the Justice Department involved extensive community outreach and engagement, reviews of internal investigations of use of force and allegations of misconduct, and negotiation of remedies directed at system reform.
Mr. Zisser returned to the Bay Area in 2015 and worked as an independent consultant and attorney for independent civilian oversight agencies at the state, regional, county, and city level. This work included extensive court monitoring of the Illinois state prison system, reviewing the Santa Clara County Jails’ complaint and internal investigations procedures on behalf of the Blue Ribbon Commission chaired by former IPA Judge (ret.) LaDoris Cordell, reviewing and advising the police oversight agencies for BART and San Francisco, and advising the California Attorney General’s Office on its investigations of youth-serving agencies. Mr. Zisser has spoken at national conferences and to local groups on civilian oversight models, is a member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight in Law Enforcement, and has volunteered with a city commission on disability issues in Oakland and on police reform efforts in San Francisco.
Prior to his work at the Justice Department, Mr. Zisser worked for a local civil rights nonprofit in Philadelphia and a national human rights advocacy organization in Washington, DC. Immediately following law school, he clerked for a federal district court judge in Memphis.
Mr. Zisser graduated from UC Berkeley, where he majored in Comparative Literature. During college, he interned at the Santa Clara County public defender’s office. He earned his JD from Georgetown University Law Center.