In May, there will be a special election to fill the vacancy in the 3rd District left by the departure of Lucas Frerichs to the County Board of Supervisors.
Filing to compete for that seat are two candidates: Donna Neville and Francesca Wright. Each week between now and the election, the Vanguard will pose the candidates weekly questions in which they have between 250 and 350 to respond.
Vanguard Question 3: How would you address racial disparities in police stops?
- I will initiate a Council Resolution to address racial bias in policing through data monitoring, evidence based practices, and public reports of progress including implementation of the previously funded transparency portal.
- I will invite community researchers to present findings on promising practices for departmental consideration.
- I will direct the City Manager to require that the police department present a concise plan of action to include data monitoring, evaluation of training effectiveness, lessons learned and annual reports of progress.
- I will volunteer to be the council liaison to the Police Accountability Commission.
In 2020 three Davis commissions were in agreement to promote nine recommendations to improve public safety. We have made meaningful progress, but have not fully embraced and implemented some significant recommendations.
It is well known that as a co-founder and coordinator of Yolo People Power, I have worked with commissioners, other community members, city council, and the police chief to develop mechanisms to support equitable and transparent policing. I believe these mechanisms have contributed to a reduction in use of force violations and improved the quality of responses to mental health service calls. We still have further to go. Researchers, such as Stanford University social psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, have developed actionable check lists for departments that have reduced disparities in other California police departments. The council allocated $75,000 in the 2021-22 police budget for analysis and creation of a public dashboard of Racial Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) data. These data are not yet found on the City websites. I will work with staff to ensure this happens.
While RIPA data provide important measures of racial disparities, impacting those numbers requires reflective practices. Progressive police departments are learning organizations committed to a culture that reduces bias and where the public feels respected. Other practices to consider include: activating body-worn cameras at officer-initiated stops; review of footage of tense situations; identification of opportunities for improvement; customer service audits; and independent evaluation of training effectiveness. I will track these issues through to resolution.
Davis has made progress in addressing racial disparities in traffic stops, but we still have much more work to do: data from 2021 shows Black drivers are 4.5 times more likely than white drivers to be stopped in Davis.
Hiring an independent police auditor in 2006 was a very positive step. The auditor follows independence standards, has full access to Police Department (PD) data, and publicly reports evidence-based findings and conclusions. I spent much of my career working for the independent California State Auditor, so I understand the importance of having access to the facts and making evidence-based recommendations.
We have had great community input as well. The Police Accountability Commission and the Committee on Reimagining Public Safety have made recommendations that have been implemented by the City Council and Police Department.
We must continue to collect and analyze stop data and change policy and practice accordingly. The City mandates implicit bias training for police officers; but it must evaluate the effectiveness of that training. If training isn’t reducing racial disparities in traffic stops, then we need to find out what will. We should use body camera recordings not just for investigation, but to identify bias in police interactions and to make needed changes in training and police practice. Also, if the data reveals that traffic stops for non-moving violations (expired tags or registration) show a pattern of bias and do not improve public safety, we should explore ways other than a police traffic stop to address those violations.
I am a passionate advocate for CRISIS now, where specially trained mental health professionals respond to mental health crises rather than the traditional police response. Police officers are not needed in every situation and by having more specialized professionals for mental health crises, police can better support public safety and respond to 911 calls.
The key is to use the data to make well-informed policy decisions that address bias while balancing public safety for all. If elected, I will do what I have always done: listen; do my homework; consult with subject matter experts, and make sound, evidence-based policy decisions.