Yolo People Power is grateful to those Davis City Council Members and Candidates who have publicly supported fundamental change from the current policing model, to a new Public Safety System. Thank you Councilmember Will Arnold for the call to “reimagine, redesign and repurpose our public safety system” and for acknowledging “our brothers and sisters in the Black community and other people of color, whose lives have for centuries been devalued, dehumanized or simply ended by the very institutions charged with their safety.” This naming of racism in our institutions and policing culture is a historic first step. Clarifying what we want and how to deliver it is the work we must fervently undertake.
Davis residents are questioning their assumptions about policing and asking what situations truly require an armed police response. Parents in our community have been horrified that their children were met by officers in riot gear with tear gas canisters when they courageously marched for justice. A recent analysis of five years of arrest data supplied by the Davis Police Department indicated that only about 13% were crimes against a person. We have learned from the Human Relations Commission study and the 2018 Attard/Olson study that people of color have a different experience of policing in Davis than the white members of our community. We also believe there is now consensus, between our police officers and the community, that they are not appropriate responders for most homeless and mental health calls. Regardless of the amount of training provided to armed officers, they are fundamentally the wrong profession to calm situations and to help individuals receive the help they need.
As a small city, we have the challenge of addressing wholistic safety. Our governmental infrastructure is limited, and we depend on Yolo County for social, public health, mental health, and behavioral health services. We commend the council for supporting homeless outreach and mental health specialists, but the temporary placement of these roles within the police department must remain temporary. Increasing programs under the police department is a mistake.
We need a new system designed by the people it is meant to protect. A system where the public is at the top of the organizational chart. In short, a system that is designed from the ground up to serve ALL of the members of the community of which it is a part. Please do not entertain any name changes until the system of public safety is fully reimagined and redesigned and can be administered from a public safety model.