Spotlight: Mayor’s Comments on Reimagining Police

Gloria Partida

By David M. Greenwald

On Tuesday the Davis City Council took up the remainder of the item on the recommendations by the subcommittee on the subject of Reimagining the Police in Davis.  The council did not take formal actions on Tuesday, however, each member made it clear that they had strong support for the recommendations—the only question would be which items to prioritize and the timeline for doing so.

Staff will come back with more specific proposals.

The article from the Vanguard’s Emily Dill captured the overall meeting:

‘Roadmap’ for Implementing Public Safety Reforms Drawn at City Council Meeting

Here we highlight some extensive comments by Mayor Gloria Partida.

The mayor noted that this report put together by subcommittee members putting in extra time was a fine piece of work, while at the same time thanking the police department “which has been a willing participant and that’s a key part of whether or not this will be a successful endeavor.”

She said the recommendations “were very thorough” and she said “they were reflective of our community.”  She noted we are not “a high crime community” and also “not a community with a high population of at-risk youth.”

She said a lot of other places where they are talking about defunding the police or reinvesting, “there are very specific areas that need to be addressed”—she noted that “we do as every place in this country does, we struggle with racial bias.”  She said, “The same racial bias that has caused many of the profile police misconduct cases that we’ve witnessed.  Those cases have brought us to this place.”

The defund the police movement, she said, “at its core was a desire to invest in communities in order to address some of the socio-economic determinants that lead to outcomes that involve the police.

“When this first came forward, the prospect of how we could improve the lives of vulnerable populations in our community made me very hopeful.  I’m like, finally, we’re going to be addressing some of the things that will make people’s lives better.”

The parks and recs department, she said, “is an unrealized agent for change” whose programs “are gateways to better lives for a lot of people.

“That is one thing that doesn’t seem like it’s connected to this issue,” she said.  “But it is at the very beginning of when people begin to have trouble with the police.

“The possibility of serving some calls with non-sworn officers presumably at a lower cost, and having the resources to address some of our social needs is a direction that makes a lot of sense,” she said.  “That’s why I believe all of the recommendations that seek to change the culture of policing are a priority and something our city has already committing to.

“There are a lot of things on this list that we are already doing and already committed to,” she said.

What is most important “is finding ways to create a more robust social service emphasis,” she said.  She liked the suggestion from Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs with the idea of housing a way to better coordinate social services.  “We can really create an umbrella under which we really know what we’re doing in these areas so that they’re delivered in a more coordinated way.  I think that’s something that would be very helpful.

“Really what we’re talking about is helping to break cycles of poverty,” the mayor continued.  “All these things are things that really move people out of poverty.  The opportunities you have as a young person, really determine how successful you are later on.”

She cited Recommendation 1, the drivers of racial disparities in the Davis Community, saying that “to me it’s pretty obvious that poverty is one of the main drivers.  There’s a lot that we can do around that for our young people.”

She noted a story on Facebook of a person who was stealing a trailer, the name was mentioned and someone mentioned that they went to high school with that guy. “I just thought that that crime was twenty years in the making.  That person grew up here in Davis and our community could have done something to help that person not end up in the path that he did.”

That’s not to dismiss the implications of implicit bias or racism in our system, she continued.  “I think we all know that bias is a reality in every institution,” she said.

“There are reports that racial profiling starts as early as preschool,” she said suggesting maybe preschool teachers also should receive implicit bias training.  “We can also expect any new department we launch will also struggle with the same issue we’re trying to fix in our police department.

“Sure we can start another program and another department, we can have other people go out who aren’t police, but we still have to make sure that we’re training and we’re looking to see what areas we continue to need help in,” she said.

Mayor Partida said, going forward, they should identify how to best look at these recommendations.  See what we’re already doing.  Where there are gaps.

“Many of these are doable,” she said.  “Recommendation number nine is going to be the most complex but it doesn’t mean that we can’t go forward with that recommendation and we look at how we could implement that even as we are working through the other recommendations.

Recommendation 9 calls for committing to a vision to re-imagined public safety.

It calls for “a “New Department” (ND) model in which social services and non-violent aspects of public safety are placed under the responsibility of a new City agency lateral to the DPD” and also “a “New Structure” (NS) model in which all public safety services, including the DPD, are placed under a single umbrella.”

The mayor also called for additional support for our youth and working with the school district “that would be instrumental in creating partnerships with the police department and the city” to develop outreach programs.

She also said, “The CAHOOTS model, which is often cited, is more than just alternative model about sending police into the community.  That model also has training of the community and outreach into the schools and I think that we forget that the culture of our police force reflects the culture of our community.”

Training of our community and our watch groups “is also a big part of ensuring that we have equitable public safety.”


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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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34 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    a person who was stealing a trailer . . .  our community could have done something to help that person not end up in the path that he did

    Is that how it works?  This is worthy of a real discussion.  What sort of community/government programs would realistically prevent a person from taking to a path of crime?  This is sandwiched in a discussion of race – but not clear how the trailer stealing fits in with race.  Are there programs that can change lives that much, especially to the point we could not need armed police someday?  Like I remember Davis built a teen center in central park in the 80’s to help Davis teens.  That failed for some reason, not sure it actually ‘helped’ (was there a reduction in crime for that generation).  Not sure why it’s gone, maybe ran out of money?  The building is still there, with a bike museum in the basement.

    1. David Greenwald

      That’s a long discussion I suspect. In general, education, jobs, opportunity are the best ways to reduce likelihood of crime. Mental health, substance abuse, and support are perhaps second lines.

      1. Alan Miller

        A big ‘of course’ to all of that.  But the big caveat is how it’s implemented.  The problem I have with VPS thought on these matters is the ‘throwing money at it’ fallacy.  That’s why scammers have learned that you can pass anything in California by adding the words ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ into the text of your initiative, and your company or cause is funded in the billions.

        Such as “The initiative will fund the expansion of GREEN murderers to kill more people SUSTAINABLY”.  Sounds great!

  2. Don Shor

    Not sure why it’s gone, maybe ran out of money?  The building is still there, with a bike museum in the basement.

    No, they didn’t run out of money. The bike folks wanted a place for the bike museum, so the teen center was closed for that purpose. The claim was made, falsely IMO, that the teen center was not used much. It was actually a travesty. Fine to have a bike museum, but nothing was done to replace the teen center and nobody was speaking for the teens as that unfolded.

    Very liberal people tend to think that crime arises primarily from economic circumstances. I think that’s kind of insulting to the many people of poverty who manage to get by without stealing other people’s property.

    I agree programs should be expanded to deal with poverty, and that many people can be rehabilitated. But not all, by any stretch. There seems to be a growing attitude that we should just tolerate property crimes because they aren’t worth the costs and undesirable effects of enforcement and punishment. I suggest that focusing on the disparate impacts of enforcement is crucial, but giving open license to stealing would have its own set of undesirable consequences.

    1. Alan Miller

       

      Very liberal people tend to think that crime arises primarily from economic circumstances. I think that’s kind of insulting to the many people of poverty who manage to get by without stealing other people’s property.

      And a big AMEN to that, DS!

      There seems to be a growing attitude that we should just tolerate property crimes because they aren’t worth the costs and undesirable effects of enforcement and punishment. I suggest that focusing on the disparate impacts of enforcement is crucial, but giving open license to stealing would have its own set of undesirable consequences.

      And a big AMEN to that, DS!

      1. David Greenwald

        Don is missing a key factor – it’s not poverty and crime necessarily, it is concentration of poverty and crime.

        Here is one of many peer reviewed works bearing that out: “Our results show that higher concentrations of poverty are associated with more crime. ”

        Link

      2. Alan Miller

        it’s not poverty and crime necessarily, it is concentration of poverty and crime.

        I’m not sure what your “it” and your “it’s” are here.

        “Our results show that higher concentrations of poverty are associated with more crime. ”

        I don’t disagree with that statement.  In what way does that negate what DS said?  Those seem complimentary, not contradictory.

      3. Eric Gelber

        “Our results show that higher concentrations of poverty are associated with more crime. ”

        ”Associated with” does not necessarily mean causes, nor does it mean sole or primary cause. It’s likely a factor but, to Don’s point, there are no doubt other variables that—independent of, or in combination with, high concentrations of poverty—are primary causes.

    2. Alan Miller

      The bike folks wanted a place for the bike museum, so the teen center was closed for that purpose.

      Wow I didn’t realize it was that clear cut.  I thought the teen center went under, and the bike museum came years later to make use of the empty space.  Isn’t the bike museum open like for a few hours twice a week or something?  And the teen center as I recall was open everyday.

    3. Bill Marshall

      Don…

      The teen center was failing… it was actually effectively closed before the bike folk sought to re-purpose the building… don’t have cites, but remember the in-house discussions, as to budget, and CC actions…

      1. Don Shor

        The teen center was failing… it was actually effectively closed before the bike folk sought to re-purpose the building… don’t have cites, but remember the in-house discussions, as to budget, and CC actions…

        I disagreed with this analysis at the time, and I disagree with it now. The survey presented did not indicate it was failing and it seemed there was just a strong push to house the bike museum. Which, we were assured, was temporary. And of course, promises were made about resources for teens etc.

        So my question is, in the context of this article, what programs exist for teens in Davis? What resources are here for teens, at risk or otherwise? I stated then that teens were not represented in these discussions, and I suspect they still are not. I have no idea who would be advocating for youth services and resources in Davis now. My kids were not far removed from that age then, and had made use of the teen center.

        So a decade later, what is the city providing in the way of resources and programs for teenagers? If we’re going to take a holistic view of this (as in, the problem having started twenty years prior), in what ways are those problems currently being addressed? Lamar advocated for the teens, but he was a lone voice at the time, it seemed.

        If I were assessing any program proposal of the sort being put forth here, I’d take it one step past the action items stage. I’d want to know what measurable results we’d see, how we would assess these changes, how and by whom they would be reviewed and adjusted, and exactly what the managerial structure (line authority, advisory authority) would be.

        1. Bill Marshall

          To paraphrase ELO’s great song… ‘hold on tight to your beliefs’… reality not withstanding… as to teen center history… I told my story, and am sticking to it…

  3. Alan Miller

    It calls for “a “New Department” (ND) model in which social services and non-violent aspects of public safety are placed under the responsibility of a new City agency lateral to the DPD” and also “a “New Structure” (NS) model in which all public safety services, including the DPD, are placed under a single umbrella.”

    There is simply no doubt in my mind that the NS model is superior.  All admin under one roof.  Better coordination.  Single overall purpose – public safety.  And mainly, central dispatching – with dispatchers trained to triage calls to the correct unit.  Provides some oversight to police instead of having them in their own space.  With separate units as in ND, coordination will likely be more difficult, and competition for funds and issues between departments are more likely, hurting public safety.  Go New Structure!!!

    1. Bill Marshall

      I agree… ND would likely be clumsy (in transition… no on-off switch exists), and likely much more costly.  I still lean towards changes within existing structure, but if the choice comes down to NS/ND, definitely NS

    2. Morgan Poindexter

      Alan, in this case, do you feel there currently is a difficult coordination between the fire department and the police department due to an inability to dispatch an appropriate responder in a timely manner? Do you believe these two separate departments are currently hampered by the competition for funds? And do you believe these two problems are actively decreasing one or both of their abilities to execute their part in keeping Davis safe?

      Both departments currently represent the largest and third largest (edged out barely by Parks and Community Services) budgets from the discretionary General Fund of Davis (30% and 17% respectively). Both are dispatched through the CAD system which allows dispatchers (employed in the police department) to assign a police, fire or EMS unit (or a combination of all 3) using one system. The integration is so built in that you don’t question it. Why would adding more responders to that option list for dispatchers (some, like firefighters and EMS, who are employed by separate departments) make that any different?

      I fully respect the NS vs ND debate but personally find this albeit common argument about lack of coordination wholly unconvincing and counterproductive.

       

      1. Alan Miller

        Most of these things aren’t seen by the public, but quite clear from the inside.  Of course I can’t answer those particular questions.  Asking a string of questions regarding those departments that of course only people on the inside could answer – and wouldn’t, publically – doesn’t help the conversation either.

        I’m going by my experience in government — about what structures work.  That something works technically doesn’t mean it works politically and structurally.  Cooperation is more likely if there is a governing structure that oversees all units within the department – rather than off to the side.  This may be unconvincing to you, but simply criticizing my argument using the rhetorical technique of asking a string of un-aswerable questions doesn’t forward the argument.

  4. Alan Miller

    Very liberal people tend to think . . .

    I’m gonna use that one.  “Very Liberal People”.  Or just “VLP”.   Great term, beats the term ‘progressives’, as that is a subset of the VLPs.  Davis is loaded with VLPs.

        1. Bill Marshall

          100% agree, Don…

          Yet progressives differ from liberals in some ways… ‘progressives’ tend to be of the mind that, if we can’t convince you to believe and act as we think you should, we’ll work on ways to force you to… that’s where the lines between ‘progressives’/fascists, liberals/conservatives gets messy… most liberals try to behave according to their values, and encourage others to do likewise… same for most conservatives…  not so true of ‘progressives’ (as the term in currently used), and fascists… the latter two are into ‘compulsion of others’, by the ‘power of the “state”‘… at least, in my observations/opinion.

        2. David Greenwald

          I view the difference less in terms of ideology and more in terms of bent – progressives are more transformational, liberals are more establishment oriented.

          1. Don Shor

            So if Progressives are left of liberals they could be considered the ‘far left’.

            I have used that term. I have observed that many who previously called themselves progressives are now more comfortable than they used to be with the term ‘democratic socialists’, thanks to public officials such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who describe themselves that way. That is more in keeping with how the terms are used in Europe, I believe.

        3. Alan Miller

          most liberals try to behave according to their values, and encourage others to do likewise…

          How can I tear that statement apart?  Let me count the ways . . .

        4. Eric Gelber

          So if Progressives are left of liberals they could be considered the ‘far left’.

          There’s no consensus on the use of these terms. For some, liberal and progressive are interchangeable: The term progressive came into broader use as the term liberal was seen as negative. For others, the difference is more one of priorities than values.

          Where a greater distinction is drawn, progressives are more likely than liberals to go beyond protection of rights and seek to address underlying causes through fundamental systemic change.

          ”Far” is a relative term. So, what’s considered the far left depends on one’s perspective. Some view all Democrats, including Biden, as far left. For others, it refers to views held by, e.g., Elizabeth Warren. Others would reserve it for supporters of Bernie Sanders or AOC. Or, the far left could mean radical views to the left of even these.

        5. Alan Miller

          progressives are more likely than liberals to go beyond protection of rights and seek to address underlying causes through fundamental systemic change.

          They certainly are more likely to use the term systemic change.

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