By Emily Dill
DAVIS — The first Police Accountability Commission (PAC) meeting of the new year laid out ambitions for the coming months.
With two new additions to the commission, Ignacio Alarcon and Robert Canning, the members constructed an audit into Davis Police Department policies in relation to the new state policies of 8 Can’t Wait.
The meeting began with the introductions of Alacron and Canning, whose “breadth of experience add[s] to this commission,” which is exciting for the year to come, as Commission Chair Dillan Horton stated.
Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel attended the Jan. 4 meeting to explain various procedures within the department that PAC had inquired about. Namely, crisis response in regards to mental health calls of service dominated the conversation.
When questioned about the training that dispatchers must go through, Pytel explained that “we try to get all our employees through the CIT (Crisis Intervention Training), and our agency actually has the highest number of personnel that are trained,” though he did not specify in comparison to whom.
CIT is a 40-hour training program that focuses on the need to promote solutions in mental illness related responses. Pytel also emphasized the importance of the simulator training that officers do through POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training), which has moved primarily online.
In regards to continuous training, Pytel stated that “after the initial CIT is done, a lot of the ongoing training is done through the simulator and de-escalation training which occurs a couple times a year.” He also elaborated on the work that the county is doing to construct a second follow-up program because “you don’t necessarily need to go to the same training over and over…you need to build upon the training,” he stated.
In this coming year the county will attempt to have this second component of CIT running and “then the agencies will be sending personnel through that,” Pytel explained.
“It doesn’t need to be the 40-hour training, but our hope from the chief and sheriff perspective is that they will be able to provide about 8-hour training per year to all of the law enforcement and dispatch,” he said.
Following this discussion with Chief Pytel, the commission began the next item of the agenda – formulating an audit into the Davis Police Department with the assistance of Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco.
A subcommittee on the independent police audit formed consisting of Dillan Horton, Don Sherman, Mary Bliss and the auditor, Michael Gennaco. The subcommittee constructed two audit opportunities to discuss at the meeting. The commission’s preferred choice was to look into “DPD’s progress toward the 8 Can’t Wait recommendations” in three phases.
First phase would be to “examine the DPD manual along with policy/procedure.” The second phase would be to examine “whether training was sufficient” for implementation of the new policies. Lastly would be to examine how the DPD implemented them into their daily activities.
The motion to approve was made by Commissioner Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald with the addition of no-knock warrants and how frequently/if at all they occur in Davis. The motion passed unanimously.
The police auditor update was given briefly, in which Gennaco informed the commission that “tomorrow the DPD will be posting additional information, in regard to the officer involved shooting.”
Near the end of the meeting, the subcommittee discussed the public safety recommendations to City Council. Assistant City Manager Kelly Stachowicz shared with the commission that “they [council] were supportive of the information that they received from the subcommittee, and they would like for staff to look into it and additional stakeholder outreach to take place.”
Horton asked “what should people expect to see going forward,” in which Stachowicz responded that “there are several different timelines for different pieces.”
The first timeline is that of “staff returning to the council with at least some sort of initial plan…later this spring prior to the budget process,” said Stachowicz. “The police strategic plan has to be completed by June, so there is a specific timeline for that.”
She continued that the “stakeholder group process…would like to have information back to the city…in a couple of months.”
To wrap up the first meeting of the new year, the commissioners unanimously re-elected Dillan Horton as chair and Mary Bliss as vice-chair.
Emily Dill is a fourth year Political Science major at UC Davis, also minoring in Professional Writing and Environmental Policy.