by Mayor Gloria Partida
I, along with many in our Nation, breathed a sigh of relief when the Derrick Chauvin guilty verdict was read. Along with that sigh of relief came a flood of other emotions tied to a complicated history of race and power. This has been a year of tension and turmoil with the combination of calls for police reform and trying to survive COVID. In the case of the police reform movement, we were called to face difficult truths. Some may struggle to understand why we should answer this call but rising to meet moments like this is imperative to the advancement of our principles of equity and dignity for all.
As we sort through how our own city should respond to this call, it is easy to get swept up in the urgency of needed change. It is much more difficult to pause and ask what change is needed and are we only making symbolic gestures with little benefit to our local citizens. There are many symbolic actions we take as a Nation that tie us together and speak to our common goals as a people. We mark the 4th of July to celebrate the idea of liberty together and fly the flag at half mast to mourn together. Asking for reform in our local system of policing is an action we must take not only as a gesture of solidarity with our BIPOC community but to improve the social, emotional and economic outcomes in their daily lives.
To this end we must ask the question if a moratorium on police hires for any number of years would improve the life of a youth struggling with the impact of domestic violence at home. Would moving services out of a building improve the social determinants that contribute to the school to prison pipeline. If not, it does not mean there is not merit to these actions. Changing the focus of how we deliver service can have a positive effect on what we label criminal. However, it does mean that we must set priorities for the needs in our own community and find ways to make the reform we ask for meaningful for us. My city council colleagues and I are committed to the nine recommendations our joint committee, and the community justice groups have worked so diligently on. It is disheartening to hear the narrative in some spaces that our motives are to wait the moment out or ignore the difficult actions. Facing these difficult actions and standing in the reckoning of reform needs to be done correctly so that the success is unshakeable. The last thing we want is a different community movement, a year down the road, to decide this was a bad idea and undo all our efforts. The success of this reform is too important to too many people.
It is important to note that the changes we are exploring are part of history of support for police reform that our city has committed to. Some of that support, starting in 2015, includes
-The police department, representatives from the Human Relations Commission and other community members created the Alternative Conflict Resolution (ACR) Program. The Program is an informal, confidential mediation process based on two restorative practices: circle processes and non-violent communication.
– The Police Department requires all staff to undergo implicit bias training.
– In 2017, the Council gave direction to hire consultants to review the police oversight system and historical activity in Davis, collect public input, and provide recommendations. The consultant team held numerous focus groups/public meetings, researched options and prepared recommendations. Consultants recommended a two-pronged system, Police Accountability Commission and expanded Police Auditor role, which council approved
– Created and filled Homeless Outreach Coordinator position to provide a non-sworn response to unsheltered individuals. This later expanded to include another full-time homeless outreach position. For the past year, a third position in the Police Department has been redirected to assist unsheltered individuals with navigational services
– City began to collect Racial Identity and Profiling Act (“RIPA”) data (not required until 2022) and submitted 2020 data to State. (Other communities our size are not doing this yet.)
– At the request of Council, members from three commissions (Human Relations, Social Services, and Police Accountability) provided input on police oversight in wake of national focus on police reform. This input resulted in the 9 recommendations that came before the Council for consideration.
Below is a brief overview of the actions taken by council to address eight of the nine recommendations. In addition to these actions, we are working in subcommittees to look at how best to restructure services and their delivery to address the question of the ninth recommendation, developing a new department. In my research of best practices, I will note that our county and city has gone over several iterations of service delivery models to address mental health, diversion and restorative justice. It will be important to inquire about previous successes and challenges.
-While state agencies analyze 2020 data related to racial and identity profiling in arrests and traffic stops, the city will engage independent professional researchers to undertake additional analysis
-The City will consider a funding request for a public safety analyst who can work to compile and interpret data locally
-The City will use timely qualitative analysis to identify areas for officer improvement and to provide increased customized training and/or prompt policy adjustments .
– The police department will work with the Police Accountability Commission to improve dialogue.
– Implicit bias training will continue as a priority for the Police and all city staff.
– Council will consider education reimbursement request for police department staff wishing to pursue higher education coursework
– City staff, with the assistance of the council subcommittee, will engage with a professional consultant to create a plan to engage with the broader community with the goal of building community dialogue and trust.
– The City will identify funding to hire a consultant to conduct a community survey which will ascertain community-wide sentiments regarding public safety.
– The City will expand
coordination with the county on housing and homelessness and youth diversion programs.
– Homeless services will shift away from the police department to the city manager’s office or another department.
- The City has implemented a pilot program with Yolo County to implement a co-responder model where trained mental health professionals engage directly in calls for service in lieu of, or in partnership with, sworn officers. A council subcommittee is working with staff and Yolo County Health and Human Services to examine an expansion of this program.
In closing I reiterate a point I hope will not get lost in this endeavor. Police reform is one of many reforms in a long list of reforms we must institute to make real change around the outcomes for our marginalized neighbors. As we work on our budget and consider what services we should prioritize, I urge everyone to ask for support of our youth, evaluation of hiring practices and anti-racist training of all personnel. We have pulled through much last year. Let’s make this last push a good one.
Gloria Partida is the Mayor of Davis
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