(Editor’s note: this is the third of six candidate surveys of the Davis City Council, Yolo Supervisor, and Woodland Council Candidates).
Yolo People Power 2020 Candidate Survey
Yolo People Power is a county-wide network of residents working toward criminal justice reform. To better understand the level of commitment of current candidates for city councils and the Yolo Board of Supervisors races, Yolo People Power invited all candidates to respond to a six-question survey. These were reviewed and scored independently by reviewers from Winters, West Sacramento, Davis, Woodland and UC Davis.
Yolo People Power appreciates the 14 candidates who thoughtfully responded to our questionnaire. These included the following: Supervisor Jim Provenza and Linda Deos; Woodland Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Stallard and candidates Karen Bayne and Victoria Fernandez; and Davis Vice-Mayor Lucas Frerichs, Councilmember Will Arnold, Josh Chapman, Kelsey Fortune, Connor Gorman, Larry Guenther, Dillan Horton, Rochelle Swanson, and Colin Walsh. Their willingness to put their thoughts to paper and to respond to a community group demonstrates a level of responsiveness to community concerns which we commend.
The high scorers demonstrated complete answers and awareness of impacted populations. They provided examples of previous reform efforts, offered specific ideas they would support going forward and demonstrated a commitment to civic engagement, particularly with the most impacted populations. A perfect score would be a “4”.
Yolo People Power (YPP) founded in January 2017, was originally focused on policing in Davis. The group soon expanded its scope to all of Yolo County and now has active members from all Yolo municipalities. The group supports policies and programs which prevent crime, assist those in crisis, treat all people with dignity and prepare inmates to reintegrate into communities. Hoang-Van Nguyen of the West Sacramento chapter explains “We recognize systemic and institutional racism and call upon our local governments to undertake the difficult work of transforming public safety from a policing and punitive approach to a public safety model.”
To receive a PDF of all the completed answers, please email YoloPeoplePower@gmail.com. To learn more about Yolo People Power, visit https://www.facebook.com/Yolo-People-Power-104100361133412
Q3. If elected, are there any changes in public safety and criminal justice systems you would work towards and how?
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Yes. I would push to ensure that police are held accountable, and push for our Deputy Sheriffs to be fully trained in de-escalation and strengthen use of force regulations and oversight. Second, establish a Civilian Review Board that is not under the DA’s office. Third, separate the Coroner’s Office from the Sheriff. This is a medieval hybrid which exists only in parts of California, Nevada and Montana. Fourth, remove from the DA’s office responsibility for any programs other than victim impact and administration of grants already received. Fifth, expand DHHS and Probation to create and administer all other existing and new programs. Sixth, establish a Psychiatric Evaluation Team, using psychology technicians, and trained personnel to evaluate people in crisis and their suitability for detention under Welfare & Institutions Code section 5150, with law enforcement as back up only. Seventh, utilize un-sworn personnel for noise complaints, civil violations. Finally, permanently end cash bail if the voters don’t do this in November. As a bankruptcy attorney, I know first-hand the devastating impact it can be for a family to lose a wage earner because he or she cannot post bail.
Supervisor Jim Provenza
Change in our public safety and criminal justice system is a work in progress. The Board recently funded a program that will place mental health professionals in police departments to respond to mental health related calls. This will reduce arrests and promote treatment over incarceration. I represent the county in the national Stepping-Up program. In this effort, local jurisdictions utilize evidence-based practices, informed by experience in other counties and states, to identify points of intervention to divert offenders from the criminal justice system. We recently added a second mental health court and are supportive of addiction intervention and neighborhood courts. These courts reduce recidivism and keep offenders out of the criminal justice system. Going forward, we need to increase the number of participants and ensure that persons from all racial, ethnic, and gender backgrounds, as well as LGBTQ individuals, are fairly represented. Zero bail during the pandemic has reduced the jail population. It should be continued. We are examining evidence-based programs from across the country to reduce our jail population. This should be a budget priority in 2020.
Davis City Council Candidates
Council Member Will Arnold
I have recently proposed that we reimagine, redesign and repurpose our public safety system in Davis, including a transformation of our current structure and the beginning of a new, sustainable approach to community safety. I further proposed that we begin this effort by changing the name of our Police Department to the Department of Community Safety, and committing to a mission of justice, equity, dignity, guardianship, community partnership and reduction of violence. We need fewer interactions between armed public employees and the people they serve. I believe our police officers are tasked with too many varying responsibilities, several of which they are undertrained or ill equipped to address. They are our frontline workers in addressing homelessness, mental health, and drug addiction, to name a few examples. These are responsibilities that could instead be performed by trained professionals without the need for an armed officer of the law. I believe a reimagined and renamed Department of Community Safety will lead to such a transition, away from the traditional law enforcement approach, and toward a system that more appropriately deploys personnel for the task at hand.
I believe that the City of Davis is going to be facing serious fiscal challenges in the coming years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget decisions we make MUST reflect the values of our community. I support using funds that the County has received, via grants, to fully implement a more holistic approach towards law enforcement first response. Reform methods such as de-escalation and wrap services are consistent with my professional training in mental health support services to juvenile delinquency-involved youth and their families, and in suicide prevention.
I would place a reduced police force under the authority of a Public Safety Department which would also contain Fire, EMS, Admin, Social Services, Homelessness Services, Victim Services, and Mental Health Services. This department would be led by someone without direct ties to law enforcement. The current police and fire budget would be reallocated towards the Public Safety Department which would be further divided among a commission on Public Safety, the City Council, and the leadership within this new department; the director of public safety, the police chief, the fire chief, and the directors of EMS, social services, homelessness services, victim services, and mental health services.
Council Member Lucas Frerichs
We’ve strategically invested in DPD’s budget over the past several years. Some ways we’ve moved away from hiring additional sworn officers to hiring (non-sworn) community specialists include:
FY 2017-18, we hired a homeless outreach coordinator (non-sworn) within the PD to address the needs of unsheltered individuals in Davis & to assist in managing the homeless respite center.
FY 2019-20, we hired a new Police Services Specialist (non-sworn), to provide even further support for homeless outreach & services based on the success of the first position.
FY 2019-20, we added one-time funding for recruitment efforts to continue to expand diversity in the Department.
FY 2020-21, we funded $60,000 for mental health crisis intervention services. The city is contracting with Yolo HHSA to provide trained clinical staff when law enforcement responds to a situation involving a person in mental health crisis.
These increases to the police budget are meant to assist in reducing negative police interactions in Davis and aid in the city continuing to find ways to reach out to marginalized communities. I’m committed to working on these changes- we’ll be looking at best practices for us to emulate.
If elected, I’d use my position to work on creating a Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Davis. This department would include such things as 24hr mental health crisis intervention, homelessness outreach, and shelters. I would push for this department to be separate from the DPD in order to give it a decision-making structure, budget, and culture that’s independent from the DPD and the Davis Police Chief. Related to this, I would push to redirect funding from the DPD to this new department and its services.
I would also continue pushing to implement similar programs in other jurisdictions like UC Davis and Yolo County while working to redirect funding from UCD Police, the Yolo County Sheriff, and the Yolo County District Attorney (DA) to these and similar services. I wouldn’t have direct power over UCD or Yolo County, but I would have a platform and institutionalized prestige that I could use to help advance these causes.
Removing social services from policing is necessary from both moral and fiscal perspectives. Recent statistics from DPD show conclusively that armed response to the majority of calls is unwarranted. Research shows it is often counter-productive. Further, the cost of sworn police officers and what is required to support them, is far more than what is required to provide social service workers to the same events. Creating a culture of de-escalation is critical to our future Public Safety system. This must be the starting point of every interaction, not just an option. Changing our Community Service Officers to Community Service Assistants, moving them out of the Police Department, and greatly expanding their scope is an option that could accomplish several goals; healing the divide between police and the community, reducing incidents that escalate to bad situations, and reducing costs of Public Safety. Reducing weaponry and surveillance – de-militarizing the police – will also increase trust and reduce costs. Much of this will require working with other local and regional law enforcement agencies. This cannot be done in a vacuum.
I believe that trust has fundamentally been broken with constituencies of concern and unaccountable overmilitarized policing. Additionally, we have to acknowledge the roots of American policing in slave patrols, union busting, and the protection of property often above the protection of life. We are beyond tinkering with the existing system, it must be dismantled and reimagined from the root. That means when the City of Davis responds to those experiencing housing insecurity, those dealing with substance use issues, and those going through a mental health crisis, and maintaining traffic order must be separated from armed law enforcement and fully separated from the administration of the PD. This will involve moving many PD programs and services to either other existing departments, a new separate department, or a joint powers authority with the county and neighboring communities.
I will request a community conversation where representatives from Davis PD, Davis Fire Dept, Yolo County Mental Health and Communicare directly engage with community members across all spectrums as to how public safety is administered. Following this conversation is a feasibility study on how to address needs that are currently unmet. If I am unable to get traction on timely engagement, I will create a forum. I have already begun engaging leaders inside and outside of Davis on the topic of full incorporation of mental health services within our public safety format. The current model under the Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) grant of 40 hours per week is a start, but insufficient for cultural change. I propose two of the three police officer positions defunded in the past budget cycle be restored and dedicated the mental health clinicians to supplement the one clinician being added by the recent grant. This would incorporate three full-time clinicians working all shifts side by side with police and fire from dispatch to calls to training. We need to expand the scope of Crisis Intervention Training under the Memphis model to be full inclusion.
I would work with the community to find the best ways to better distribute the responsibilities of the police, such as dealing with mental health and homelessness. I think any reform needs to involve conversations with stakeholders, and that includes the police department itself. Ideally monies are redistributed rather than increasing the total amount of money spent, but these issues are sufficiently important that it might require increasing funding to make better use of social workers and other relevant non-police professionals. Considering the budget situation in the City, the county and the state that will be a challenge and may not come immediately. In addition to making sure our police treat everyone with respect and policing is equitable, I am interested in ending the use of chemical weapons and decreasing militarization, but this too needs to be part of a larger conversation. I worked tirelessly to keep Yolo County from getting another costly armored troop carrier MRAP, and we were able to prevent it.
West Sacramento Mayor and City Council Candidates
None of the 7 candidates from West Sacramento responded the survey invitation.
Winters City Council Candidates
Winters is not electing Council members this November.
Woodland City Council Candidates
My platform, found at www.karenforcitycouncil.com, supports the creation of a Public Safety Commission (PSC). PSCs are considered best practice in community policing. They develop trust, buy-in, and partnerships, and ensure that communities receive the law enforcement they deserve. My platform also supports releasing data regarding local crime statistics. This allows communities to see incident and arrest data online, increases transparency, promotes trust, and increases problem-solving. Limiting the number of data categories shared with the public can decrease costs. WPD has a “Crime Map,” but each crime category must be accessed separately. This makes usage difficult and prevents observing any relationships and patterns between different categories of crime. In addition, once data is over 30 days old, it cannot be accessed on the map, preventing the observation of long-term trends. Finally, my platform supports the policies from the “8 Can’t Wait” Campaign. The Campaign grew out of the recent homicides of members of the Black and Latinx community at the hands of law enforcement. WPD’s website has no mention of this current climate, a huge oversight.
Our hiring practices and training should reflect our commitment to end systemic racism within Woodland’s public safety and criminal justice system. These should not cost additional. P.O.S.T. requires officers be trained and racial sensitivity/bias training will be or should be required for all law enforcement.
Vice Mayor Tom Stallard
As an incumbent, I am always working on improving our criminal justice system. I supported and voted for a budget that included the hiring of our first social service worker who has been embraced by our police department. More recently, our new budget provided for the hiring of a mental health worker to assist our police. Historically, these services were provided only by Yolo County staff. They have retreated somewhat from this role, leaving it to our city to pick up the slack. So, we are increasingly looking to other professionals to assist our police in working with those who really need help from a non-judicial perspective. Of course, these staffing alternatives cost money, but we are already changing the allocation of resources in our public safety budget.
Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link: