Davis Police Accountability Commission Provides Debrief on Mar. 1 Discussion with City Council

Davis City Hall with an old style bicycle statue out front



By Neshmia Alam


DAVIS, CA — Last Monday night the Davis Police Accountability Commission (PAC) met and debriefed about their meeting with Davis City Council on Mar. 1, 2022. 


In the Mar. 1 discussion, PAC Chair Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald and commissioners Mary Bliss and Donald Sherman presented the PAC’s history, vision, past accomplishments and plan for 2022. 


Escamilla-Greenwald explained that the commission began in “January 2019 as a result of citizen requests following local and national policing issues” and stated that the commission’s vision was “for the community and the police to be aligned in shared goals of safety, respect, and accountability.”


Escamilla-Greenwald also shared notable accomplishments of the PAC in 2020 and 2021, including “discussions with DPD [Davis Police Department] Chief or his designee regarding restraint and use of force policies, calls for service regarding mental health, DPD recruitment and hiring, and homeless response.” 


She noted the PAC’s participation in “Reimagining Policing [with] the Tri-Commission Task Force” in 2021, a project which also involved the Social Services Commission and Human Relations Commission to address racial bias and social services and provide recommendations to City Council. 


In addition to this, Escamilla-Greenwald mentioned the PAC’s hosting of the “Know Your Rights community webinar” in 2021 which taught community members about their rights when encountering law enforcement.


During the Mar. 1 meeting, PAC commissioners also discussed the goals they wished to accomplish alongside the City Council from 2021 to 2023, as well as the PAC and City Council’s respective expectations and perceptions of the role of the PAC. 


According to Escamilla-Greenwald, the commission would respond to “City Council requests for input on matters outside of the Independent Police Auditor and Commission priorities.” 


Commissioner Mary Bliss shared that she hoped the City Council would aid the PAC in “determining why racial disparities exist in Davis” regarding arrests. She also requested that City Council “encourage the DPD to [engage in] dialogue with the PAC on the content of its Use of Force Policy.”


Bliss continued to request that the PAC “move from a reactive oversight” and transition to adopting “a proactive manner.”


Following the PAC presentation, City Council members attending the Mar. 1 discussion were given the opportunity to comment on the presentation and ask additional questions.


Councilmember Dan Carson stated that he was happy to see the PAC work towards police accountability through programs such as Crisis Now, but also acknowledged that the commission was taking on a “huge and complex endeavor.” 


He asked PAC members, “How do we pull this off?” and requested that the commission keep that question in mind.


Commissioner Dillan Horton offered that in order to “increase collaboration [and] reduce conflict” between the DPD and the PAC, the solution “is to focus on those benefits that we’re all looking for in the various jurisdictions” which include “the [surrounding] cities and then UC Davis and then the county.” 


Horton emphasized that “if we focus on what’s sort of shared across the board, I think we’re going to be the most successful, fastest.”


Councilmember Josh Chapman asked the commission if the PAC saw themselves having a role in “fostering a relationship out in the community with the Police Department.”


Commissioner Morgan Pointdexter replied that the PAC’s role was “dissemination of information” in order to maintain transparency between the Davis Community and DPD.


Last Monday night’s debrief of the Mar. 1 meeting gave PAC commissioners an opportunity to comment on their takeaways from their discussion with City Council.


During the meeting, Commissioner Donald Sherman stated that the PAC was “in a bit of a holding pattern at this time.” He expressed hope for more information regarding the commission’s potential to take on a more active role in the future, saying “we’re, of course, impatient,” but “the council is doing their part of the job at this point.” 


A vital component of this role as determined by Davis City Council during the Mar. 1 meeting and reiterated by Sherman during the debrief is “its relationship with the police department.” 


Commissioner Dillan Horton also stated that he would appreciate “more clarity on the role of this position,” adding that he “would kind of struggle to figure out” what outcomes are expected of the PAC by City Council. 


Regardless, he concluded that the meeting with the City Council was “a good exchange” which encouraged “better understanding” between the two groups. He also shared that he hoped to have more discussion on “what the word accountability really means” for the PAC. 


Mayor Gloria Partida also took part in the debrief to offer her opinions on the Mar. 1 discussion and agreed that she “found [the Mar. 1 discussion] to be productive.” 


Escmallia-Greenwald concluded that she “enjoyed the opportunity to review what has been accomplished” by the PAC in the past and Councilmember Chapman added that he hoped Davis residents as well as commissioners would “feel free to reach out and have a conversation” regarding the PAC and its responsibilities.


About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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