By David M. Greenwald
Last fall, a joint subcommittee comprised of members of the Police Accountability, Human Relation and Social Services commissions put forth a report on Reimagining Davis Policing that contained nine recommendations.
Council at that time asked staff to come back with specific proposals. They are scheduled to return to council with those recommendations for the April 6 meeting. In advance of that meeting, community activists are ramping up a social media campaign – Time for the Nine – to raise awareness about Re-imagining Public Safety in Davis.
On Tuesday night, during public comment, a number of commenters called in to express their support for the nine recommendations of the Temporary Joint Subcommittee.
“I’m asking the city to place a three year moratorium on new police hires,” one call requested hoping that a shift in resources will decrease the need for new police officers.
Another caller noted that it has been one year since Breonna Taylor was killed by police in Louisville and ten months since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“I commend the council for creating the temporary joint subcommittee,” he said. “However, I ask why you haven’t committed to any real change in policing or public safety.”
He noted that since that report was delivered, “we haven’t heard any sort of consensus on a vision. And now without any consensus the buck has been passed to staff who are not elected to come up with a plan.”
He called for a public safety department that can handle non-violent service calls. The TJS recommended that 24 percent could be diverted from the Davis Police Department but he believes that as much as 44 percent of the calls can be diverted from the Davis Police Department.
That, he said, “would require a new structure to process these calls.” He called for an independent department of public safety and a three year moratorium on the hiring of new police officers.
Julea Shaw called to voice her support for all nine recommendations. She pushed to implement the crisis now model as well as an independent public safety department.
She noted that staff was working on a plan, and she said, “I look forward to seeing their plan and the implementation of these commonsense reforms because everyone in Davis deserves safety and support.”
A student called in also for support of a public safety department “that would take the place of some of the responsibilities of the Davis Police Department.”
A researcher at UC Davis and a three year resident of Davis. She explained that she grew up in Eugene, Oregon where they have the CAHOOTS program.
“CAHOOTS works hand in hand with the Eugene Police Department, they both answer 911-dispatch calls and CAHOOTS deals with a wide range of mental health crises including conflict resolution, welfare checks, substance abuse and suicide threats. This division of labor allows the police to focus on crimes and other pressing public safety.”
She continued, “It’s estimated that the program saves the city of Eugene about $8.5 million a year.”
“In my experience, Eugene and Davis are pretty similar,” she said. “They are both college towns on the West Coast and they are both great places to live and raise a family and I strongly advocate that Davis invests in this kind of public safety program that has served Eugene for so many decades.”
Another caller, Nusrat Molla, called in asking for an independent public safety department. She explained that her brother has an intellectual disability.
“My family has interacted with the police a lot,” she said. But she said, “What we really needed was a behavioral specialist and help navigating social services for him.”
“Supporting real public safety means reallocating resources and things that are not making us safer or helping people like my brother towards the services that are in desperate need of resources,” she said.
Morganne Blair’s-McPherson made suggests that could help the city divert 44 percent of calls to a public safety department and away from the police.
These include: welfare checks, code enforcement, city code violations, disturbances, trespass complaints, animal related incidents, school truancy, vandalism, noise complaints for loud music, drunk in public, mental health evaluation, child abuse reporting and much more.
Francisco Lopez-Montanyo said he currently works at a convenience store and noticed over the last year the mental health crisis affecting our community, “it doesn’t really seem to me that the police are able to handle a response appropriately to these problems.”
He noted even with domestic violence complaints, “I noticed the police unable to address the problem at its root cause.”
He also noted the history of policing, starting out as a slave patrol, and has quickly become “a system of cheap labor for the prison industrial complex.” He also noted that the January 6 event exposed the infiltration of white supremacy groups into police. “This is beyond policy change or institutional reform, we need to begin to transition to a truly safe society for all.”
Robert Henderson a lifelong resident of Davis, urged the council “to be real leaders and work towards real public safety in Davis. We have seen time and time again throughout this country that police do not make the community safer.”
Another caller noted that he has continually heard from other community members about “the mistreatment they have faced at the hands of the police.”
“Additionally the police budget in Davis is much too big for a city that does not need police patrolling all over the streets – Davis is a very low crime area,” he said.
A graduate student at UC Davis argued that the current system “Fails to keep all of the people in Davis safe.” She added, “Our current system operates in such a way so that Black people, indigenous people, people of color, Queer people, homeless people and other minorities are not only unprotected by the police, but are often victims of unfair, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and ultimately violent policing practices.”
This caller went further than others calling for the complete abolition of policing in Davis.
The major move has been for the nine recommendations by the Temporary Joint Subcommittee.
The 9 recommendations are:
- Determine why racial disparities in arrests, recommended charges, and stops exist in Davis.
- Encourage the DPD to dialogue with the Police Accountability Commission (PAC) on the content of its Use of Force Policy.
- Evaluate the impact of de-escalation, crisis intervention, procedural justice, and implicit bias trainings.
- Shift non-violent service calls to unarmed personnel.
- Reinvent the police-community conversation.
- De-prioritize, decriminalize, and offer restorative remedies for minor, victim-less offenses through warm hand-off programs, an expansion of the specialty court system, and other measures.
- Work with County partners to build an integrated, “Crisis Now”-type model for behavioral health emergencies.
- Expand the City’s community navigator workforce.
- Commit to a vision of re-imagined public safety by creating either a New Department or a New Structure Model
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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