Commentary: Comments on Tuesday, While Passionate, Were Remarkably Civil

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Concilio-2013-Community-Landy
Landy Black receiving an award in 2013 at the Concilio Dinner.

There were times when it seemed the emotions of the moment were going to boil over, but each time they threatened to do so, the community pulled back.

There were moments when the passions rose, but even Alan Miller who delivered a very pointed rebuke began his comments by stating, “This isn’t personal, I have had nothing but great service from the Davis Police Department.”

But the connection that he made was not between Ferguson and Davis, but rather with the actions on the UC Davis Quad on November 18, 2011. He also pointed out, “I’m not worried about you guys, I’m worried when you get a bad leader.”

He referenced the UC Davis Chancellor and stated, “That’s the point because I didn’t blame the UC Davis Police Department for what happened on 11/18, I blamed bad political leaders who made police make a bad tactical decision and forced them to do it and that could happen with the city police department as well if a protest appeared to get out of hand.”

I will admit, as I watched the speakers coming forward, I had a flashback to 2006. But this was different from 2006. For all of the passion, frustration and occasional anger that was expressed on Tuesday night – almost none of it was directed toward local police and none of it was personally directed toward Chief Black or his leadership team.

There is no doubt that the process here was not preferable. Leadership should have been more sensitive to the political concerns and sensitivities of the majority of Davis residents. I think the council action taken, in particular with regard to the second and third parts of Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis’ motion, will move the city back on track in that regard.

Retired Police Chief Phil Coleman made the comment, “I’m a cop, and the season for hating them was the 60′s. The respect (occasionally begrudging) shown towards the DPD leadership and membership was pervasive throughout the session.”

The objections to the police vehicle were made strongly and passionately, but mainly in terms of things like community values, questioning the need for the vehicle, and questioning the tide of police militarization.

As noted above, even some of the more passionate remarks, such as those by Alan Miller, were praising of local police and blamed the missteps of the past not on the police but on mistakes made by civilian leadership.

There was little in the way of cop-bashers, or people making negative, derogatory or even critical remarks about the Davis Police Department. Many speakers and certainly members of the council went out of their way to say complimentary things about the leadership of the department or the interactions the public had with the police.

I agree with that. Last spring, in another capacity, I proudly nominated Chief Landy Black for Thong Hy Huynh award for precisely the reasons stated above – the chief has helped to reach out the community and build trust to the point where if there is an issue that arises – and the MRAP has been as heated an issue as there has been in some time in this community – the response by the public, while disapproving of the policy direction, was nevertheless respectful of the work performed in the community.

That is all you can ask for – and that is not what happened in 2005 and 2006.

I was re-reading some commentary from that time and the disconnect was remarkable. When the police chief left abruptly and unexpectedly in June of 2006, he wrote a stunningly critical departure email, casting blame on a city commission and my wife, who was the chair of the commission at the time.

In his email he blamed “the Human Relations Commission and its chairwoman, Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald, for limit(ing) my effectiveness to work with this fine community.”

“Despite the great work of the members of this police department, the HRC has divided the community along race and religious lines to fulfill a self-serving political agenda,” Jim Hyde wrote in the email.

He would add, “In my 27 years of government service, 10 years of clinical psychology and 16 years of working with nonprofit organizations, the HRC is the most dysfunctional and incestuous group I have ever witnessed. I hope that (the) City Council will correct this community problem.”

Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald responded, “We need to hire a new chief that can work with community groups like the HRC and others to establish meaningful dialogue that can produce common ground results.”

While she was heavily criticized at the time to the point where a month later the HRC was disbanded, we got exactly that. Chief Black’s great strength has been the ability to work with community groups. The police department, whether it is Assistant Chief Darren Pytel or Lieutenants Paul Doroshov, Tom Waltz, or Ton Phan (and others), has worked extensively with the HRC and other community groups to build understanding.

At the same time, unfortunately, that we had the discussion at City Hall, the non-profit Davis Phoenix Coalition collaborated with the Davis Police Department and Assistant Chief Pytel to have a community forum that was very successful.

This work lays the groundwork for mutual trust between the community and the police, so that when something goes wrong the groundwork is already laid for communication and dialogue.

That was not in place eight years ago and that allowed incidents that should have been minor to tear the community apart.

I may not agree with Chief Black on this MRAP issue and I know he disagrees with me. My main criticism here is about process, not necessarily substance. We can agree to disagree on the need for this equipment.

I understand that Chief Black did what he believed the right thing was for making the community, and the police officers over whom he has responsibility, safer and reducing the risk of death or catastrophic injury for both groups.

I won’t try to pretend to know more about police tactics than Landy Black.

I will highlight one more comment from former Chief Phil Coleman, an individual I have also grown to respect over the years and to appreciate both his participation and the perspective that he offers.

He wrote yesterday, “I was impressed with the brevity and general temperament of the commenters. Yes, there were the requisite drama-queens on display (in this instance, kings), but they are strategically positioned to give comedy relief. Both ‘sides’ had at least one eloquent speaker. One older gentleman made an observation that was spellbinding to me regarding ‘process.’ I get the distinct impression that everybody in the City has taken a blood-oath to not publicly discuss the communications breakdown on the tank.

“It was a bad evening for the PD. There were some huge holes in the argument for retention, but 2 councilmembers courteously pulled their counter-punch to avoid embarrassing the speakers.

“The high-water mark for the DPD was when Chief Black gave a rebuttal to the question of possible ‘military creep’ this device may symbolize here and everywhere, to the further peril of American citizens’ liberties. It was a truly masterful response, and truly disappointing nobody even noted it. It bears repeating, so the creeps can stop creeping.

“Chief Landy said that compared to police eras past, today’s citizens are more effectively protected from police intervention into personal liberties than ever before. The creeping actually goes the other way, with our cherished civil liberties going upward.

“In full concurrence, I can go back a half-century for local police comparison purposes. The civil liberty denials and abuses by police then were much greater than now. Landy should have gotten a standing-O for that one. Instead, he received total silence and blank looks.”

I fully appreciate Phil Coleman’s comment here. And he’s correct. The problem is that there is a rise in the use of military equipment by the police and I think that represents a threat not only to civil liberties but to the need to have a clean distinction between civilian and military policing.

For me, the bottom line in this discussion is that we were able to do it really without community bloodshed. This didn’t devolve into a police-bashing incident. We were able to make a point as a community and still recognize the progress that the Davis Police Department has made.

And now we as a community can move on and address the more critical issues before us as to how we are going to fund city services and amenities in a time of declining revenue.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Here is the video from the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting:

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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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60 thoughts on “Commentary: Comments on Tuesday, While Passionate, Were Remarkably Civil”

  1. Tia Will

    Appearances can be quite deceiving. On the previous tread on this subject, posts were made implying that some city council members were basing their decision on how many people showed up to speak against the MRAP as opposed to those in favor. This is not an accurate observation. The three who were in active opposition had made clear their feelings about the MRAP well before the city council presentations. So for these three, the issue would only have been was there anything said by any commenter that would have changed their minds. The answer would appear to be no.

    What bothers me the most about this event is that I feel that it was entirely avoidable. What I see as the best possible outcome is that this serves as a means for avoiding such situations in the future. My hope going forward is that when a major acquisition or major policy change is contemplated by a department that they will proceed differently. This kind of change would best be accomplished in a collaborative manner with city leaders. At a minimum an email or conversation with the City Manager and each city council member presenting the proposal and seeing if they see any problem with it. A better approach would be to thoroughly research the anticipated pros and cons of the proposal and present them formally. While I appreciated Chief Black’s presentation, I think that it is inherently flawed in its lack of analysis of any potential downsides.
    Any decision we make in life will have its pros and cons. What I did not hear was a full assessment of both sides in the formal presentation.
    I fully respect the experience and expertise of Chief Black and truly wish that his presentation had included actual data about when the presence of such equipment had actually been instrumental in the kind of protection for either police or civilians as opposed to just three examples of how it might be useful. While I respect experience and expertise, I value evidence and demonstrated benefit in similar situations much more highly.

    Even the most experienced airline pilot now follows a strict check list. Even the most highly revered surgeon now does a complete “time out” prior to starting a surgery. Why ? Because we are all human. We all make mistakes. To minimize the potential for error ( police or civilian) means that one must admit its possibility. No where in Chief Black’s presentation did I see the acknowledgement that such errors in judgement or execution were even possible.

    What I would have liked to have seen prior to acquisition of the vehicle was a thorough presentation of all the potential pros and cons, discussion with our city leaders in advance to obtain different perspectives ( which have often saved me from errors in my career) , and only when there was agreement that the pros outweighed the cons would acquisition occur. I hope that some similar process will become the norm, not the exception in our community. I feel that this kind of open, transparent, and prospective process would do much to build upon the increased respect for the police that Chief Black has already done so much to build.

    1. tribeUSA

      Tia–good comments; I agree bringing up historical evidence and pros/cons both addressed.

      I’m also one of those who thinks ‘mission creep’ is a real danger; particularly if we get a new chief who finds reasons to use the new toy more (and to get more like this one).
      In Davis, a tree-trimmer still has a more dangerous job than a policeman (particularly in the near future as many people water their trees less, they dry up, and dying limbs are more brittle and break/tear in unexpected ways during trimming).

  2. Barack Palin

    “Leadership should have been more sensitive to the political concerns and sensitivities of the majority of Davis residents.”

    And what is the opinion of a majority of Davis residents? Have you conducted a poll? You always don’t like others claiming a majority feels one way or the other without proof.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I’ve been doing this long enough that I have a pretty good sense of where the majority lies on this issue. This one is not a close call.

  3. darelldd

    It is difficult to keep track of this conversation with the huge number of threads on the same subject!

    I am still trying to figure out how Rochelle managed to change her vote after the fact. Has anybody figured that one out? Wasn’t it pretty clear that she was “yes” to the motion on the table? And the responses were repeated by Dan – with no contest at the time. Honestly, I’m just curious how that all works – being able to change a vote after the item is closed.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Dan stated the vote was 4-1 and no attempt was made to correct him. Then they went to break. I left. The next day I learned that Rochelle’s yes was changed to abstain, making it 3-1-1. I’m also curious about the process. How long after a vote is called can it be changed?

        1. Michelle Millet

          I just watched the tape. Dan claims to have “misheard” her. I think maybe council needs to clarify what happened. While this particular vote change wasn’t significant the appearance that a vote was changed during recess should be addressed, and the process for doing so clarified.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      My understanding is that she voted yes. Realized that the vote wasn’t what she thought it was. During the break asked to change her vote, was allowed to do so. Someone last night pointed out that under Roberts Rules that would be permissible.

      1. tj

        During a “break” in the meeting, out of sight, the council members are discussing their votes, conducting city business secretly??
        It’s not the 1st time this has happened. It’s not a good thing.

      2. Alan Miller

        DG, thanks for clarifying this. I wasn’t implying there was a huge issue here, but it was odd how it played out and I wondered how it fit into procedure.

      3. Michelle Millet

        So Rob White was wrong yesterday when he wrote this:

        No votes were changed after the fact. City council voting process is very specific and requires accuracy. Council member Swanson did not vote yes and registered the inaccuracy with the parliamentarian (mayor) as soon as it happened. A break was called for them to converse so that she should correct the statement of the voting outcome.

        Additionally, the city attorney and city clerk would not allow for a changed vote post casting.

  4. Michelle Millet

    I did not give it much thought when the no clapping rule was lifted, but after Tuesday’s meeting I wonder if council should consider reinstating it. IMO it led to a divisive and intimidating atmosphere. If this had been my first council meeting I would have been very reluctant to speak out with an opposing view. Something to consider.

          1. Michelle Millet

            Yes. Those. Maybe the camera can point at the audience while they are doing it so the viewers at home can watch.

    1. Alan Miller

      As I have made clear, I despise applause at council meetings. Krovoza had it right. Applause and booze are opposite ends of the same stick. If applause is allowed, booing is just as appropriate. One without the other is like a magnet with one pole.

    2. PhilColeman

      Historically, I’ve been a steadfast supporter of the “no clapping” rule. Permitting clapping to literally amplify a popular sentiment by the audience majority had an element of fear and intimidation for those who wanted to speak in opposition. But I’ve done a 180, based on Tuesday’s Council meeting.

      There was applause from the majority supporters, yes, but it was brief. But here is what caused me to flip-flop: Opponents to the popular view were not mocked in any way, the audience body language showed polite attention to points raised. In short, it was respectful reaction even in its silence.

      But what really sold me was one young lady in background of the TV shot showing the speakers. She spoke for the majority audience sentiment, but she gave polite applause for every opponent speaker, including you, Michelle. Class, class, I could give that woman a hug for style points alone.

      One sample, yes, let’s give it a chance. A new day may be dawning.

        1. Alan Miller

          I was watching this carefully. Some of the people who were against the MRAP started clapping when people finished or when other people clapped after people for the MRAP. A lot of people just start clapping when the applause begins, it seems almost programmed into our DNA.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Opponents to the popular view were not mocked in any way, the audience body language showed polite attention to points raised. In short, it was respectful reaction even in its silence

        This is a little separate issue from the clapping. I hardly noticed it while giving public comment, but when I finished Dan did have to ask at least on member of the audience to be respectful of the person giving comment. (I think they were shouting out something in opposition to my comments while I was making them).

      2. Michelle Millet

        I’m pretty comfortable speaking in public but I still get nervous giving public comment. I personally wasn’t intimidated with the clapping, but it did make me think, especially since so much weight is given to the number of people who speak on an issue during public comment, that it might discourage people, who are nervous anyway, from speaking out when they are “against” the crowd.

        1. Alan Miller

          I agree 100%.

          Clapping “seems” like a positive thing. For those speaking against popular opinion, a lack of clapping can be intimidating. It is also easier to keep “hecklers” in line by not allowing public reaction at all to (i.e. being respectful) to all who speak.

          Note: eye rolling and nodding probably will have to acceptable, with the line drawn at audible reactions.

  5. Alan Miller

    ” . . . he wrote a stunningly critical departure email, casting blame on a city commission and my wife, who was the chair of the commission at the time.”

    DG, maybe you need to recuse yourself from this article. #wink#

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I think my bias is clear. Not everyone has my take. However, I also think the former chief’s history in Antioch, his disparaging comments toward Davis and the DPD, and the current chief’s successful tenure, heavily suggest that at the very least it took two to tango in 2005-06.

      1. PhilColeman

        David, please, follow the song. “Let it go.” I know if somebody publicly berated by wife I’d beat the crap out of him. We understand the emotion. But the song says . . .

        1. Alan Miller

          Hey, guy runs a forum, guy can say what he wants.

          As a society, we “let it go” #mini-throw-up# far too easily. We get super mad at an injustice, and before anything is done about it, society is on to the next shiny object/issue. This is super-well-pronounced in Davis, where UCD has learned well that any wrong by the U can be cleansed each summer as students move away and are replaced. Thus why Ms. Katehi is still drawing six figures.

  6. Frankly

    The title of this article is laughable. Civility was demonstrated because those prone to incivility when they don’t get their way, got their way.

    You can calm a child’s tantrum by giving him the candy he is screaming for.

    What might have been the outcome if Robb Davis developed a police-centric and safety-centric view instead of a symbolism-centric view, and voted to keep the truck along with Rochelle and Brett? Civility? I doubt it.

    1. Alan Miller

      Maybe people would have conducted acts of civil disobedience . . . . . lions and tigers and civil unrest, oh my!

      Wouldn’t it have been ironic if they’d brought out the tank in response?

      Note: I only said tank because . . . . . well, you know.

    2. Robb Davis

      I will rise to the bait here Frankly because it is clear that people are taking one part of my three part motion and neglecting the rest. Yes, I was clear that we need to find a way to dispose of the MRAP. However, I also said we need to analyze the public safety needs of the police in detail and explore all the options to assure they are protected. I am committed to that and the idea that the MRAP is the only or somehow best way to accomplish that is simply not accurate. Yousuggest here that my proposal is not police-centric. That is wrong. Indeed, I want to receive a proposal from the police about what it will take to achieve safety with an analysis of the risks. That too was in my motion but you conveniently neglect that.

      Further, ask yourself this question: Why, if we are dealing with such a critical public safety need have we had ZERO public discussion about this need? Why have requisite protective gear requests not shown up in proposed budgets? You might answer because we have been in a recession and cannot find the money for them but I would respond that THAT is a failure of city planning: to know of a clear and present need and not state it and not bring it to the table is poor planning. After all, we have brought the need for street improvements to the table, discussing them no fewer than 4 times in the past 18 months. Where has the discussion been about the need for this kind of protection?

      And so when a vehicle that I judge to be inappropriate for this community shows up without a prior discussion of need you accuse me of failing to be police-centric and unconcerned about public safety. I don’t accept the charge and my motion demonstrates that it is fallacious.

      Further, you have stated that reference to “symbolism” makes for bad public policy. Again, I disagree. When I ran for office, and following on the Chamber of Commerce’s own language, I spoke about my commitment to help create an economically, environmentally and SOCIALLY healthy city. Of course the latter sounds nice but what does it mean in practice? To me, one piece of a socially healthy city is trust and this vehicle, given what it symbolizes and the cultural and social reality of our time will not engender trust between the police force and the community. You may wish it to be otherwise but it is not. Allowing this to fester for two more weeks while we decide whether or not it can be used can only create a distraction away from the MANY other priorities of this city. I decided it was in our best interest to rid ourselves of this distraction and have a rational discussion of what was needed in its absence. So please, stop suggesting that I am not concerned about the public safety and safety of our police. That is simply not the case–and demonstrably not the case.

      Don, I realize that my comments are off track so pull them if you must (I will not be angry 😉 but given Frankly’s characterization of the position that I took and the motion I proposed I felt I must defend myself in this case.

      1. Frankly

        Robb… if you wanted to want to receive a proposal from the police about what it will take to achieve safety with an analysis of the risks, then I think you were not in a position to vote to immediately eliminate the MRAP. You should have agreed to pause and wait for that report, IMO.

        If the Police pulled a boo boo making this decision too quickly and without enough discussion with the community, I think the CC did the same.

        I do understand your point about symbolism in consideration of your responsibility as a CC member in this town. My comment that symbolism makes for terrible public policy was more general.

        Certainly a politician cannot be tone deaf to the feelings of constituents. But a focus on feelings… especially amped up feelings… tends to sub-optimize policy. I don’t think you cannot rationally evaluate a thing and make a decision based on a fact-based cost/risk-benefit when you respond to a group that is amped up.

        In all my life experience, the majority of bad decision-making I have witnesses or participated in was emotional-based. As a leader I would always want to do the right thing no matter how pissed off some might be about not getting their way. The emotions surrounding the thing are just one of the criteria, not the main course.

        But you do make a compelling point about your commitment to a socially healthy city. I guess my question for you is… do you think this decision really helped in achieving that? Frankly, I think you valued one side of the trust consideration over the other. But I appreciate that point and that perspective. We might simply just have different views over what a socially healthy city should be.

      2. Edgar Wai

        Hello Robb, I am sorry for taking your time to comment on a topic that might be a distraction from other city topics. I don’t think that all people share the same symbolism as you do, and I suspect that the police did not share your symbolism. Because of that, I don’t see the logic why a police department that is taking care of its own needs (in the on-going pressure of budget cuts and arguably increasing threat) would feel alarmed to involve the city council in the acquisition of the MRAP. For someone that does not share your symbolism, the acquisition of the MRAP seems like a routine logistical/contingency arrangement.

        I only watched the video streaming but I was surprised that such a matter could be resolved by the city council the way it did.

        Maybe I read the wording of your reply incorrectly, but I don’t see your logic in the following:

        1. If you believe that it was a failure in city planning to address the police’s need of protection, why would you remove the protection that the police got for themselves? The city did not do its job to give the police what they argue that they need, and when the police got it themselves under the aid of the DLA program you take that away. Do you see the debt that your decision would create? The balance of cooperation right now is definitely not at a fair ground. I feel that the city council is asking a lot from the police to deal with the decision. It looks irresponsible for the city council to nullify the MRAP the way it did. I don’t feel that you properly expressed the debt that your decision might have created.

        2. I don’t understand why the discussion of the MRAP is less important than other topics like fixing the road or the innovation park. Not fixing the road or not having an innovation park is not going to cost human life as directly as not having proper personnel protection.

        3. When you take away the MRAP, and ask the police to come up with proposals, you are asking the police to pay the debt that you have just created.

        I think that this issue is quite serious, especially when a city council can make a decision on the grounds that you made. I feel that the way this decision was made was unstable, and unpredictability could cost a lot in terms of overhead. The way this issue was settled felt like gambling with chips you don’t own.

        The dialog during the meeting felt too unilateral. A key question that was missing, that one could ask Chief Black, was this:

        “Given that many in community is not comfortable with the MRAP, and that it is creating increasing commotion, anxiety, and conflict in the community, what action do you see that you could take to resolve that conflict?”

        I think this is a necessary question to ask to reach any good bilateral solution. By asking this question, you maintain a level of trust that the police, once aware of the effects of their decision (to acquire the MRAP), can take steps to alter their decision, and to make amendments to address those effects. By doing so, the police could acquire the view of the rejection, and takes responsibility of fixing it, the city council would not be accused of micromanaging the police.

        The role of city council should primarily be that of a relator. You let one entity know the effect of their action, so that they can learn and change their behavior. The primary role of city council is to let people understand one another so that each member can make considerate decisions and take responsibility for their actions. The objective is to change how people think without controlling their behaviors.

        Given your support and experience in restorative justice and conflict resolution, I would believe that our view must be very similar. You might be doing exactly what I am describing, but from my limited view of the situation I simply don’t see what you had already done. I want to see more of how your measures would resolve. I want to see that it would resolve in a way that addresses the needs and restores or improves trust.

        I hope that this swift decision would become more clear to be the correct decision in hindsight, although at this I feel there is much ground to recover. I want to know how the police is taking this decision because it feels that they just got stabbed three times in a row. It would make me feel a lot better if that is not how they feel.

        Thank you for your dedication to the city.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I think that’s a good question. Robb’s motion drew the line at large item purchases. Is that a good place to draw a line? I know the school board has to approve all hires, the council doesn’t. The council has to approve all purchases over a certain value. I don’t think we’re in danger at least in these areas of falling into micromanagement.

      1. Anon

        From the discussion, I was not sure where the City Council was going to come down on this issue. But I do think the City Council needs to be very careful here, because it is not their lives being put on the line. Secondly, it is also highly unlikely we are going to get anything from the military after returning the MRAP, something the City Council should have at least considered before making their decision. But it was pretty clear there were 3 votes for returning the MRAP, and no amount of information was going to change their mind. I was in the Rochelle/Brett camp on this one – the City Council should have at least given the Police Dept. an opportunity to discuss all ramifications of any decision.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          True, but after September there might not be a 1033 Program as both the Obama Administration is reviewing its guidelines as well as the Congress having hearings.

          While I don’t think that the Rochelle/ Brett position was necessarily “wrong” (subjectively), I think there were two drawbacks – first, the issue is a distraction from the three top priorities (City Manager, Parcel Tax, Innovation Park) and second, leaving it hanging might have led to worse outcomes.

        2. Tia Will

          Hi Anon,

          “I was in the Rochelle/Brett camp on this one – the City Council should have at least given the Police Dept. an opportunity to discuss all ramifications of any decision.”

          I see this point a little differently. I believe that the police department had a lot of time in which to build a solid, evidence based case had they chosen to do so. Even after the arrival was made public, they still had time to build an evidence based case. Instead Police Chief Black chose to rely on an “expert testimony and opinion ” based approach. I am sorry that this is the case. I too care very much about the safety and well being of our police and all of the members of the Davis community. I believe that the best way to achieve the desired safety is to be totally transparent when there are needs, to discuss those needs with the city leaders and to decide together the best means of meeting those needs while avoiding potential disadvantages to one’s preferred approach.

          1. Edgar Wai

            I think deciding what data to collect, gathering the data, and analyzing it to draw a conclusion can be an expensive task. To choose between having another converted ambulance (swambulance) or the MRAP, these might be the main considerations:

            1. According to the police, the cost of the MRAP and the Swambulance are equivalent. In terms of cost, there is nothing to analyze.

            2. The MRAP can stop high power rifles and the Swambulance cannot. The advantage in this aspect is a Boolean value and is absolute.

            3. Due to the ballistic protection property of the MRAP, the police can do whatever they have been doing safer. This point is contestable. One could argue that by having an MRAP, a criminal would increase their arsenal corresponding to deal with the police, or that the appearance of the MRAP would escalate the situation. According to the narrative of the police, the criminal had more fire-power increasingly, while the police do not have increasingly better protection to response to that fire-power. The status quo could not be kept because the environment is changing.

            From these three points, I think it is sufficient to make a rational decision to have the MRAP. This is not to say that such rational decision is necessarily correct. Often times, by designing experiments and collect appropriate data, one could discover that the rational decision is wrong.

            Do you know what kind of data should be collected to show whether having an MRAP is effective? What do you think would need to be the control parameters to collect the data? How many data points / incidents do you think would be enough?

            To do this right, I feel that it unreasonable to ask for such a study and analysis when considering the difference between the swambulance and the MRAP.

  7. Alan Miller

    Where is the line drawn between the police department receiving $1000 binoculars from a program and receiving a $0.6 million armored vehicle from a program?

    1. Anon

      How about high powered rifles or guns? Are you going to start giving the City Council the power to micromanage what sort of weaponry the Police Dept. can purchase?

      1. Davis Progressive

        i think they already have the power to micromanage, they could pass an ordinance that banned such weaponry in davis. the question isn’t whether they have the power but how they’ll use that power.

  8. tj

    At this “feel good” moment, let’s not forget that even the Davis PD still has problems. Hassling the homeless, stopping people driving red vehicles, stopping people who are a little darker than others. And of course, officers covering up for each other when anything wrong is done.

  9. Alan Miller

    That’s one side of the examples given, and it sounds like it is driven by a political ideology rather than a case-by-case “objective” analysis, especially as you cited no particular cases (I guess we are supposed to know), just threw out accusatory implicative innuendo.

  10. tj

    Alan, I could provide descriptions of various encounters I’ve witnessed in the last couple of years. Other people could, too. When I see an encounter that appears illegal, I stop and watch. Most people walk or drive on by without a thought that it could be them next time. You should get out a little more and pay attention.

    As DP says, things seem to have improved. I see far fewer stops of minorities on 8th Street.

    On the other hand, Halema’s suit was dropped because after all these years the city still refused to pay.

    Alan, are you aware that all you need in order to be hired is a GED and a relative who’s a cop? And you ignored the problem of the blue line, one of law enforcements biggest problems.

  11. Alan Miller

    “You should get out a little more and pay attention.”

    Say WHAT?

    “I see far fewer stops of minorities on 8th Street. ”

    Is that an issue?

    “Alan, are you aware that all you need in order to be hired is a GED and a relative who’s a cop?”

    No.

    “And you ignored the problem of the blue line, one of law enforcements biggest problems.”

    Is that one of those new traffic markings on 5th Street?

    I don’t think you clarified a damn thing.

  12. Bill

    Great article David. I’ve witnessed some tremendous leadership by the Davis PD, particularly in the area of community dialogue. Some of the officers, like Darren Pytel, are continually seeking opportunities for open & effective dialogue and eliciting community-based solutions. I’ve lived in a lot of cities, including serving as a Chaplain w/ the New Orleans Police Department, and this is the best police force I’ve ever encountered by far. Hands down, the best.

  13. Anon

    To Robb Davis: The police, as far as I am aware, were told to cut their budgets like all other city departments. So why would they set out their needs, if they know asking for a $250,000 bullet proof vehicle will be met with decided “no, we cannot afford that right now”? The Police Chief saw a way to meet the Davis Police Dept’s need in a frugal way, that would have cost the city nothing except the $6,000 to ship it. Now it is unlikely the military will have anything more to do with Davis. It is all well and good for you to now indicate the police may freely ask for what they want, but my question to you is how are taxpayers going to pay for it?

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