(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
Question 4. Of the reforms that you create, how would you ensure that they are instituted with full accountability and transparency and are achieving your goals?
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office have critical, but limited functions. Anything outside of those functions must be evaluated by the Board of Supervisors, which has the ability and statutory mandate to control budgets and establish policies, to ensure transparency in both its decision-making as well as that of law enforcement. Data is critical, so I would begin with pushing for an order to require Sheriff Deputies to record demographic data for every traffic stop, including the reason for the stop, and the disposition of the stop, and whether a search was conducted. This will allow an analysis as to whether people of color are over-represented among those who are stopped, searched, and arrested. I will also advocate to disband the DA’s opaque, multicultural task force, and replace it with a more robust and independent Citizens Oversight Board to ensure that the people are overseeing the DA and Sheriff and not the other way around.
Supervisor Jim Provenza
There must be measurable goals and objectives for each program. These goals and objectives, as well as ongoing information as to progress in meeting the goals and objectives, should be posted on the county web page in a format that is easy to understand. The county’s Results Based Accountability (RBA) standards are a good start. Under RBA a program must demonstrate that people are better off as a result of the program. I have been advocating to extend these accountability measures to every criminal justice reform program. The goals and objectives should relate not only to recidivism but to the ongoing success of individuals in the program in meeting personal and occupational objectives. The public should be involved in setting goals and objectives for criminal justice reform programs. An advisory board (see below) and community forums should be utilized to gather input. An executive subcommittee of the advisory board could also engage with staff on a regular basis.
Davis City Council Candidates
Council Member Will Arnold
My proposal received significant attention when it was first released, including regional media. Many of the commenters indicated a belief that my proposal was a radical departure from our system and would jeopardize the public’s safety. But in reality, this is the direction the Davis Police Department has already been headed in my term on the Council. Our last three personnel additions to the Department have been in the areas of homelessness and mental health. My proposal is not so much a departure from our recent practice, but a vision for its potential outcome. I am not alone in moving us in this direction of a public safety delivery system more in line with the needs of our community, nor do I believe my proposal is an exhaustive definition of all the potential changes that may be needed or ideas for how we may move forward. And for any changes we make to be effective, they must have buy-in from our community. I believe a robust public -engagement process is necessary to enact these or any changes, and to ensure their success.
Civilian oversight and community involvement are critical. I commit to making sure that all the diverse voices in our community are represented in local policy making and oversight committees. In my campaign, I have surrounded myself with community members with very diverse backgrounds, interests, and viewpoints. I pledge to continuing that approach when I am on the City Council.
Money talks. The most important thing we can do to ensure our priorities are aligned is to ensure that funds are being distributed to reach our goals. In addition to a commission on public safety, which would have a direct influence on the budgeting of the department, I would implement an internal audit and budget in the administrative wing of this department to keep all accountable and continue to improve the services to the community. As an economist, I have a deep love of data and believe that data should be collected whenever possible and made public. Every public interaction should be documented. I believe that having each sub-department answering to the same person, the Director of Public Safety, will encourage uniformity in reporting and accountability across departments.
Council Member Lucas Frerichs
In Davis, we have many tools that determine the shape of our police culture. Our community voices, the Police Accountability Commission (PAC), the connectivity maintained by our senior center, the visibility of minority voices through our Civic Arts and Human Relations Commissions; ensuring the balance of funding between these vital programs and our policing is indeed something we must all keep an eye on. We all have a place in the march for reform, a say in our budget priorities, and a responsibility to speak up and insist that we continue to do better.I am a strong proponent of our city commission process. I appreciate the work of the PAC, and I participate regularly in their meetings. Council and Commissions typically meet together once per year, and during our last joint meeting, we recommended that the PAC make desired changes to its charge and bring it back for approval. Routine public examination/vetting of our policies/procedures is a good way to help determine whether we are meeting our goals, and what type of changes may be warranted. Also, looking at other jurisdictions’ best practices and weaknesses can assist us to see where improvement may be needed in Davis.
The City Council and relevant Commissions (Police Accountability, Social Services, and Human Relations) should receive regular progress reports from the newly formed Public Safety department, especially in the beginning when we as a community are still determining best practices. There should also be ample opportunity for community input and suggestions both during these City Council and Commission meetings as well at separate town halls. Finally, City Council (and staff) should be ready and willing to change and update procedures and policies based on this feedback. I want community surveys distributed to Davis residents, especially those from marginalized groups. Every effort should be made to meet people where they are instead of forcing them to go somewhere to give their opinion. Additionally, the DPD and DPS need set goals and standards that they’re regularly evaluated on by independent auditors and these evaluations need to be made public. I strongly favor having a very specific and yearly review that everyone knows about.
Transparency and accountability rules must be written in to all aspects of City governance. Accountability cannot exist without transparency. Existing California State and National laws regarding transparency in policing are problematic to making changes at the local level. A specific goal I would work aggressively for would be to give the Police Accountability Commission subpoena power. While there are issues to be overcome with this goal, they justify work in solving them. They do not justify non-implementation. It cannot be said too often that accountability does not exist without transparency. Developing proper metrics to assess the desired goals are critical to achieving those goals. Creating those metrics and rigorously recording the data that determine those metrics must be specifically set forth in policy. The tracking of those metrics must be done in real time, must be absolutely transparent, and must be the basis of evaluation and alteration of any future Public Safety system. I believe we must create and maintain our Public Safety System with evidence-based decision making.
Before implementation the city has to set up a process that gives the public clear expectation as to what is to happen, and when it’s expected to happen, only then will the public be able to hold the City accountable to missed benchmarks. This would have to be conducted in the midst of the City’s existing and public, budget process, the PD’s strategic plan development, the joint subcommittee, and one assumes some public forums on this subject. However only with new leadership on the dais can further transparency be delivered.
Goals would be set concurrently to the funding and hiring of the specially trained crisis clinician positions. The goals and metrics would be set via community conversations, commissions, staff and the City Council. It is essential that the conversation reaches out into the many communities within the City; seniors, students, families, unhoused, business owners, affordable housing tenants, and professionals in addition to advocates, activists and commission members. We must welcome all voices, including those who are victims of crimes. The metrics and actions to achieve metrics will be adopted in Q1 2021, if not sooner. Just as the City does with the budget, goals and plans will be adopted on a 2-year basis with quarterly report outs with adjustments to be made as needed. The goals and metrics are equitable outcomes reflective of the demographic make-up of the community, transparent reporting on arrests – including recognition of law enforcement interaction with individuals passing through and prevention, support and reduction of homeless camps and incidents as part of the plan includes fully integrating services such as Communicare and transitional housing via Project Room Key.
It starts with the process of how reforms are created. By involving stakeholders including the police department itself, there is a better chance of buy-in and implementation. I value our commission system and see the PAC as an important part of follow through and would hope to see their role increased as a part of reforms. Transparency and accountability are major themes of my campaign and would certainly apply to the police department. The recent releases of statistical information on Davis policing is a step in the right direction. This needs to be a routine practice going forward. Investigations into specific incidents such as the picnic day incident a few years ago need to have any written reports released to the public (redacting as little as possible) as a matter of regular practice.
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
A Public Safety Commission is essential to the ethical and transparent implementation of my platform’s policies. The commission’s members must be diverse, with no conflicts of interest. My platform asks that the commission examine racial and ethnic data, as well as incident data, and report to City Council quarterly. City Council must hold the police chief accountable for the actions of the department. The implementation of the commission must be done carefully, so as not to undermine the community’s
confidence in their police department or cause the department to become defensive. Creating a commission when there hasn’t been a recent policing incident may be ideal, as this allows the commission to develop its goals, roles, and procedures without the intense pressure, publicity, and politicizing that an incident would bring. Obviously, if a community has an incident, they should create a commission immediately, but the creation of that commission will be forever linked to the incident. Instead, when a community creates a commission as a best practice, this allows for an opportunity to see the commission as a positive step forward in the life of the community.
An oversight committee comprised of community members from diverse backgrounds and neighborhoods, elected officials, Public Defenders/District Attorneys and law enforcement representatives should be created and supported to provide accountability and transparency.
Vice Mayor Tom Stallard
I believe it is my responsibility as an elected representative of the people to constantly watch what is happening in our police department. That is why I take ride-alongs occasionally. I also go out of my way to interact with department staff whenever I can. I send the Chief several emails every week on issues of concern, and he courteously gets back to me on everyone. Currently, I am assisting with a conflict in my jurisdiction in which one of the sources of disagreement involves the different ethnic backgrounds of the neighbors. I have been impressed with the department’s sensitivity in approaching this from a healing perspective. I am working to get the elderly complainant to participate in a Neighborhood Court conversation to help resolve the situation.