Inside the Numbers: A Further Examination of the DPD Turnover Rate

imageCity of Davis

Yesterday’s Sacramento Bee ran an article that found that Citrus Highets and the Davis police departments have the highest staff turnover rates among other law enforcement agencies in the region.

To add fuel to the fire, the Bee recessitates old charges that the climate in Davis involving complaints of racial profiling and the Halema Buzayan case were the prominent if not primary culprits for this turnover rate.

“High-ranking officials from the two departments blame a variety of factors ranging from a new department’s normal break-in period to the way a racially charged incident was handled.”

The Bee quotes Assistant Chief Steve Pierce discussing issues involving the arrest of Halema Buzayan, then 16 in 2005, along with accusations of racial profiling.
“Davis Assistant Chief Steve Pierce said his department changed its retirement calculation, making retirement more attractive for some officers. In addition, several officers left to work in newly formed departments in Citrus Heights and Elk Grove.

Pierce also said some employees felt uncomfortable working in the city following a 2005 incident involving a 16-year-old Davis High School student arrested for a misdemeanor hit-and-run. Her parents alleged racial bias because the girl is Muslim.

During exit interviews, some departing officers remarked that they “don’t want a car stop done on a person of color blowing up in (their) face,” Pierce said.”

However, that paints at best an incomplete picture. The Vanguard spoke to Davis Police Chief Landy Black who provided context to both the initial interview as well as the data.

First he provided the actual breakdown of those who left from 2006 to the present.

Retirement: 5 (3 sworn)

Attained promotion not available with DPD: 4 (2 sworn)

Failed to complete academy/field training/probationary period (dismissed by DPD): 2 (both sworn)

Non-sworn personnel became sworn officers elsewhere: 3

Resigned to take comparable position elsewhere: 5 (4 sworn)

By his count that allows for at most four sworn officers who left the department under the conditions that were describe prominently in the Sacramento Bee article.

These data suggest a much more mundane explanation for a high turnover rate. Some simply retired, others were able to get promoted to positions unavailable to them in this department, a few failed their probation, and a few became sworn officers elsewhere.

Under those conditions, the turnover rate is neither alarming nor unusual.

Chief Black also suggested that the comments attributed to Assistant Chief Steve Pierce, while accurate were taken somewhat out of context. His comment regarding exit interviews was not unsolicited but rather reflected a direct question from the Bee reporter who asked him point blank what effect the Buzayan incident had on people leaving the department. There was no emphasis made by Assistant Chief Pierce, according to Chief Black, on the Buzayan factor.

“It is unfortunate that the Sacramento Bee article makes it look like he/we put an emphasis on it. He didn’t and we don’t.”

Chief Black continues:

“I was hired after a period of some internal and external turmoil. There was an expectation placed on me to take steps to mend internal and community relations. While I will take credit for what I’ve done to meet that expectation, the officers and leaders of this department have taken great individual and professional initiative to rehabilitate an image that they and I believe was unnecessarily tarnished. There is always room for improvement, but the vitriol was over the top in many folks’ estimation.

I cannot speak to the character of the officers who left in 2006 or early 2007, but the officers who remained and continue to work here have done so, in large part, due to their commitment to this department, their peers, the law enforcement profession, and the citizens & community of Davis.”

Chief Black also took on the issue of racial profiling.

“Racial profiling continues to be a publicly debated issue. We are aware of that and the fact that the perception of racial profiling still exists. We continue to develop our department and train our personnel to conduct themselves in ways that minimize the perception of racial bias. Our recruitment and training focuses on finding and developing professionals who have the capacity and inclination to understand the dynamics of a multi-cultural society and are able to be resilient and welcome transparency as a means to improve trust.”

Brief Commentary:

From my perspective, it is unfortunate if the Sacramento Bee believed it was important to stir the pot on this issue. I received a number of emails on this article and felt it was important to find out the rest of the story from the Davis Police Department.

This issue rekindled an issue that had arose back in 2006, when many accused community activists including my wife, the chair of the Human Relations Commission at the time of creating an atmosphere that had led a large number of police officers to leave the department culminating with the Police Chief at that time, Chief Jim Hyde who took a job in Antioch.

The truth is that while it appears there may have been some police officers who left for those reasons, it was not the huge number that was being represented in the media or at city council meetings by members of the community.

While the issue of racial profiling remains a sensitive issue in parts of this community, the overall tone of discussions have change drastically. The departure of the previous chief along with the arrival of Chief Black and Ombudsman Bob Aaronson have helped change some of this.

While many undoubtedly still blame my wife for fanning the flames, many of these incidents were taken to her from people within the community and to the best of her ability she followed the charge of the Human Relations Commission as the only place where people could go to air grievances of this nature at that time.

It is my hope that we have all learned from that incident and should an incident of this sort arise in the future, we can all handle it better and avoid a repeat of what occurred in the winter and spring of 2006.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Phil Coleman

    What a peculiar story! There appears to be some defensive posturing here, by both you and Chief Black. You both do share a common bond in that neither of you know what really happened in the Pierce interview. Yet that did not deter you or Black from forming conclusions that were apparently satisfactory to both.Much of what you have related as Chief Black's emissary would have had a lot more credibility if you had done one simple thing–talk to Assistant Chief Steve Pierce. His office was only a few feet away!What would Steve had said to you about HIS side of the story? Are you confident that Chief Pierce would have said exactly the same story as his boss related to you? All we have in your …further examination… Is Landy's version of the Pierce interview. If Steve was misrepresented, It would have been enlightening to hear him say so in his own words.

  2. Anonymous

    ……………From my perspective, it is unfortunate if the Sacramento Bee believed it was important to stir the pot on this issue……………….This is what you do everyday Blog Boy , it also sounds like Phil Coleman has one thing right , your nose is turning brown , from being very close to Landy Black .

  3. Good Riddance to Hyd

    I can personally attest to the fact that Chief Hyde himself did a lot of the stirring of the pot. I heard him, during a public event at the time of the Buzayan fiasco, go on about how unfair his police officers were being treated. It was most definitely a circle the wagons mentality, especially considering the officer that made the Buzayan arrest was given a Policeman of the Year award from the DPD at the time. Good riddance to Chief Hyde – and now he is making the citizens of Antioch miserable!!!

  4. Anonymous

    Read the comments on the Sac Bee article online and see how others see the city and residents of Davis. Perception is reality, right?I bet if you were to offer all Davis cops a way to transfer to another city police force for the same pay, benefits, and transfer of all seniority, sic leave, vacation leave, and comp time, 80%+ would leave in a heartbeat. Most don't leave because they would lose all their seniority and accrued leave time which can be several hundred hours depending on their time there. As in most professions, but especially in law enforcement, seniority matters very very much! Just ask the 29 Stockton cops and 5 Lincoln cops who just got or will get laid off. No other cop that I talk to fears stopping a …protected… motorist more than one who works in Davis. Some now just look the other way when it comes to stopping or contacting some members of the population. Look at it this way: Why would you put your career and family livelihood on the line to stop a …colored… person? You could get into trouble (citizen complaint, IA, possibly get your name and face put on the bay area news, reputation dragged through the mud, have nasty untrue comments said about you by those who have no clue as to the facts of the case, etc.) for it, and you will ceertainly stress over it, but you CANNOT get in trouble for NOT stopping him and looking the other way on that traffic violation.Even if you are cleared or even completely exhonerated in a citizen complaint, the complaint stays in your personnel record for years- 3-5 I believe! This complaint is then subject to being viewed by potential employers (in case you want the heck out, i.e. Calvin Change??) and the courts and defense lawyers via what are known as pitchess motions! Does the officer actually win? I would say not. Now compare this to if you get a traffic ticket and win in court, it never ends up on your DMV record. It never happened or existed as far as everyone else is concerned. Yet if the officer …wins… on the complaint, he still ultimately loses! What a system! Then there are people out there like David Johnson, but thats a whole 'nother story. There are no David Johnsons in Sacramento or Elk Grove, I assure you. He's a unique Davis speciality that is allowed to flourish because of the unique identity of this town.

  5. Anonymous

    …I can only hope the crime rate in the republic goes sky high then maybe people will not have the time to complain …Whatever. I would bet some officers leave Davis because it is simply too boring. I am going to sleep – please alert me when the crime wave starts.

  6. Anonymous

    Sounds like the Bee sort of fabricated the story. Regardless of what Mr. Pierce said or even what he meant to say, the numbers do not lie – people left for reasons other than what the Bee claimed. There is no issue.Based on what I have read or to be more precise what I have not read I conclude Mr. Black is doing a good job!

  7. Anonymous

    David Johnson?Wrong first name and wrong spelling on last name. If police officers can not stand up to some person from the ACLU how can they stand up to a guy with a gun?The term …colored folks… went out of style a while back. You might want to move forward about three decades.

  8. Anonymous

    Get your facts straight. The name David Johnson is correct. He is an illiterate …colored… man who lives in a trailer park outside the republic limits who has filed numerous false complaints against the DPD. This is not the same white man who is a Yolo County public defender who sued DPD and lost. Johnson tries his best to get stopped by the police and then tries to initiate confrontation so he can win big money. He usually drives around with a video camera and will only stop to record in the few cases where a DPD officer actually stops a person of …color…. I can only hope the crime rate in the republic goes sky high then maybe people will not have the time to complain about the police and how miserable their public safety services are.

  9. Anonymous

    You might want to actually read the Bee article first. The term …colored… was the term used in the Bee article by Pierce so it will stay. And, by the way, if I were a cop, I’d much rather stand up to a guy with a gun any day over one from the ACLU. I would have been trained to deal with people with guns but no amount of training on how to deal with someone with more legal knowledge and training than myself. You only need a high school diploma to be a cop in most places and few have higher than a few years of college. They cannot compete with attorneys licensed by the state bar.

  10. Correcting the Record

    The term…colored…was the term used in the Bee article by Pierce so it will stay.

    The term used in the Bee article and attributed to Pierce was “person of color” not “colored.”

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