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:
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.
“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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