Guest Commentary: Reimagining Policing in Davis

Mayor Gloria Partida

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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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Alan Miller

    This new department should encompass all safety units new and old, so a central dispatching and administration can oversee all.  Dispatching should not be in police, but should decide how calls are routed – it should not be up to citizens to decide to call police, fire or social services — as having to reach out to another system/department could lose precious seconds in an emergency.  In other words, the police should be a unit within the department of public safety.

    I appreciated the mayor not using the D-word, “defund”, nor it’s odd new dysfunctional cousin, the A-word, “abolish”.  These words don’t make friends nor influence people.  But, at the end, the dog-whistle A-R word, for all city employees.  I’ve taken consultant-run, government sponsored race subject programs — not impressed.  You can’t train racism out of people, and the science says these programs work . . . the science says these programs don’t work . . .  the science says these programs work . . . the science says these programs don’t work . . . and the science says these programs work . . . if you politically side with believing in these programs, but . . . the science says these programs don’t work . . .if you politically side with not believing in these programs . . . but wait, you cry, the science says!!!  Simon says, put down your arm.  Put down your arm.

    1. David Greenwald

      I’m alright with the unconscious bias training but the problem is that the racism is generally at the systemic rather than the individual level and thus, individual level solutions are inherently flawed.

      1. Alan Miller

        So we should have unconscious bias training for the institution as a concept, rather than for people?  Is there a chair in the classroom large enough?

        the problem is that the racism is generally at the systemic rather than the individual level

        You’re blowin’ my mind.

  2. Bill Marshall

    You’re not alone, Alan… my experiences have been that individuals create institutions, and other individuals often change them, either for better, or sometimes for worse… but it is not an instantaneous thingy…

    Contrast, some folk who might say,

    the problem is that the racism is generally at the systemic rather than the individual level and thus, individual level solutions are inherently flawed.

    And 15 minutes later, same folk might espouse,

    Think globally, act locally!

    ‘Tis a puzzlement…

    1. David Greenwald

      Especially since you are conflating individual level with local/ global. The point I was making is that you can’t address systemic racism by not being racist at the individual level

      1. Bill Marshall

        The point is/was poorly made…

        MLK Jr would probably have agreed with me, along with many others in the Civil Rights Movement…

        The fact is, society, institutions, are comprised of individuals and communities (of individuals)… doesn’t mean that a two-pronged approach is,

        inherently flawed

        either… but if you don’t have a major focus on the individuals, family, communities, the “institutional part” will be a failure… ex.: the ‘institution’ of free, fair, open elections… it appears that more and more, that is in jeopardy, due to individuals (a lot of them)… I rest my case…

        We’ll just have to agree to disagree…


        1. Bill Marshall

          So “systemic racism” is new, and didn’t exist in Dr King’s lifetime?  Or he could not recognize it?

          Unlike you, I was alive when Dr MLK’s Jr “I Have a Dream”, and watched portions, that day, on national TV news… I opine, he recognized it, and as a minister, knew that for a ‘true conversion’ of an individual, group, institution, government, whatever, individuals had to have their own ‘changes of heart’…

          There is a person, in whose name Rev Dr Luther King Jr, and his father preached… felt the same… by all written (scriptural [Judaic and Christian texts]), evidence…

          In the ‘Hebrew texts’, it is clear that individual ‘changes of heart’, are needed (actually, crucial) to ‘reform’ the larger community… same is true in the ‘Christian Texts’…

          You will miserably fail if you work only on the “institutional level”…

          You moved the goalposts, so felt a need to respond

  3. Ron Oertel

    Systemic racism

    I’m often amazed that this term (which no one even heard of, a few years ago) is suddenly supposed to mean something factual – without question.

    Also seems to be quite a few people who automatically accept it (and perhaps even attribute their own definitions to it), and quite a few who do not.

    For those who accept it, their measure of success in “defeating it” also does not seem to be defined. Unless they’re looking for equal outcomes in all systems by skin color, as evidence of “success”. (Let alone different outcomes via gender, age, etc.)

    Seems related to critical race theory.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Actually, the correct term would be “systemic vestiges of historic racism”… there is more than a kernel of truth in that description… but the term “systemic racism” appears to go to a current plot, maliciously intended, and deliberatively racist… not buying THAT…

      1. Ron Oertel

         but the term “systemic racism” appears to go to a current plot, maliciously intended, and deliberatively racist… not buying THAT…

        How so? (“Honest” question.)

      2. Bill Marshall

        Minneapolis as an institution, its PD as an institution, nor Minnesota as an institution murdered George Floyd… Chauvin and his two-three ‘enablers’ committed the murder… individuals… evident (and evidentiturlly [sp])by the prosecution and testimony of respected members of the “institutions”…

        1. David Greenwald

          Yes and no, right. One of the big problems in Minnesota – Marshall Project points out, “Before Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, he was the subject of at least 22 complaints or internal investigations during his more than 19 years at the department, only one of which resulted in discipline.” That to me suggests that while Chauvin was a problem, the problem was institutional – the failure of Minneapolis police to deal with a problem officer. That’s why the DOJ is instituting a pattern and practice investigation in MPD.

        2. Ron Oertel

          David:  Seems to me that the problem originates with the reason(s) that folks like George Floyd come to the attention of police in the first place. Keeping in mind that the police were called, and didn’t materialize for no reason. If I’m not mistaken (as I don’t follow this as closely as some), the guy who called the police was also a “person of color”.

          I’m also not sure that Chauvin would have handled it any differently, had George Floyd been “white” (and had come to the attention of police for the same reason). No one can know that.

          1. David Greenwald

            Obviously hard to know at the individual level. From the data I posted in my article this morning however, Blacks get force used against them at almost four times the rate of whites.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Assuming that’s true (and depending upon how it’s defined), that’s still not necessarily evidence of systemic racism.  That actually sounds more like “individual” racism, if all other factors are the same.

          By the way, why is it that “cultural appropriation” is an accepted concept, but cultural differences are rejected as another potential cause of different outcomes – and not just in policing?  (Usually, by the same people putting forth both of these concepts.)

          Of course, there’s all kinds of possible differences between groups – including differences in age cohorts by skin color. With some groups more represented by older cohorts, while others are younger.

          I suspect that the level/amount of possible differentiating factors is beyond the scope of comments on a blog.

          1. David Greenwald

            This is not an example of systemic racism, from those examples, it does not appear you understand the concept.

            I pulled these from an article, these seem like good working definitions…

            NAACP President Derrick Johnson calls systemic racism “systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans.”

            Wikipedia defines the term as “the formalization of a set of institutional, historical, cultural and interpersonal practices within a society that more often than not puts one social or ethnic group in a better position to succeed, and at the same time disadvantages other groups in a consistent and constant manner that disparities develop between the groups over a period of time.”

        4. Ron Oertel

          The example I provided is a system, supported by government money that’s based upon race.  It is literally systemic racism.

          Regarding the definition you put forth:

          NAACP President Derrick Johnson calls systemic racism “systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans.”

          That would leave out all other non-white skin colors. Assuming that whites are precluded in the first place.

          But I wasn’t actually asking for a definition.  I was asking how you and (others) who promote this can make this conclusion, based upon “outcomes”.  When we know that there is likely more than one factor.

          And going beyond that, how does one make very significant policy changes, when causes (or percentages of causes) are wildly unknown? I don’t recall an experiment like this at any point in history, in any society. A loose theory driving significant policy changes. Focusing on results does not determine cause.

          I’d suggest an article, or series of articles regarding systemic racism.



          1. David Greenwald

            What you described was a limited effort to undo some of the systemic racism. The fact that you continue to provide examples of supposed discrimination against whites while ignoring the massive legacy of discrimination against people of color is very telling.

        5. Ron Oertel

          What you described was a limited effort to undo some of the systemic racism.

          I’d categorize this as, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

          It’s similar to those who categorize racism into “regular” racism, or “reverse” racism.  But, the latter sometimes morphs into claims that non-white people cannot engage in racism at all. (Of course, there is a school board member in another city who does not necessarily make that claim.)

          The fact that you continue to provide examples of supposed discrimination against whites while ignoring the massive legacy of discrimination against people of color is very telling.

          I can assure you that there’s nothing “telling” about it.

          I asked how you know if “systems” are causing disproportionate outcomes.  And, at what point (and to what degree), since there is more than one “system”.  I believe the answer to this is complex.


        6. Ron Oertel

          Of course, one could look at existing public subsidies (e.g., welfare, public housing) as disproportionately “benefiting” some non-white groups.  For decades, at this point.

          Doesn’t seem to help.  And if anything, makes the situation worse. Maybe those “systems” are part of the problem.

          Bill Clinton seemed to know this, as well.  Nor do I recall him (or Biden, in those days) being particularly “soft” on crime – even “disproportionately represented” crime.

          If you ever get a chance to see some of Biden’s earlier comments, you might (almost) think you were listening to Trump.  (Biden was also a much sharper speaker, in those days. A significant difference, from today.)

          Yeah – I’m sure that I’m over 5 comments, so I’ll make this my last one.

          But – I’d suggest that you “start from the beginning”, and create a series of articles regarding “systemic racism”. Rather than just presenting it as some kind of widely-accepted “fact”.

          Problem being that ultimately – one can only look at results with relative confidence, not necessarily cause.

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