Over the last two weeks, like many members of the Council, I have been working with colleagues, community and staff, as well as reviewing correspondence, on suggested reforms and restructures to our Sacramento Police Department.
In my time at City Hall the Council has done two sets of major police reforms.
The first set, I had the opportunity to help write with then Mayor Kevin Johnson, as well as Councilmembers Jennings and Warren. The reforms included: body worn cameras, establishing a Community Police Review Commission, making independent the Office of Public Safety Accountability (funding staff and switching reporting from management to Mayor and Council), prioritized Community Oriented Policing (something the Chief at the time did not support), and using President Obama’s Task Force report ‘Pillars of Justice’, written by Attorney General Eric Holder, we also implemented the ‘Officer Next Door’ program which requires best practice trainings, diversity hiring and community engagement.
These reforms were followed by sweeping leadership changes in the City and the Police Department.
As part of the hiring process these goals and reforms were identified as important foundational principles. We could not have hired a better Chief for the job. Daniel Hahn’s commitment to community, diversity and training is unprecedented.
The second round of reforms came after the tragic death of Stephon Clark. Those reforms were led by Councilmember Larry Carr, who focused on the Use of Force Policy. He used the policy paper called Project Zero, which includes the ‘8 that Can’t Wait’ policy recommendations as part of his basis for suggested changes.
Chief Hahn, at that same time, introduced a new foot pursuit policy and doubled down on community outreach, partnerships and neighborhood focused efforts.
He also tightened up the body camera policy and video release policies – making both more transparent.
Chief Hahn and Mayor Steinberg also asked Attorney General Xavier Becerra to thoroughly review the policies of the Sacramento Police Department and provide input and recommendations on use of force relative to policies, practices and trainings. That comprehensive report was received in 2019.
And now as our entire country asks for more just outcomes in policing across the nation we look to reforms that will help build public trust and accountability in our own city.
Here are the reforms I am suggesting we consider:
1. Breonna’s Law – end no knock raid warrants.
2. Inspector General, add a new position to the Office of Public Safety Accountability with the authority permissible by California State law to review, observe and issue to the Commission and Council, publicly, their findings and recommendations relative to officer involved incidents.
3.Shift non crime related calls, like mental health and homeless services, away from the Police Department and into a more appropriate response team rooted in social services. Funding should follow implementation, as the program moves, so too should the funds intended to support the effort.
4.Continue to add social workers to the 911 call center and provide training to all operators for implementation.
5. Staff review and report to Council on Attorney General Becerra’s full suite of recommendations in the 2019 report.
6.Support of AB1195 (banning carotid hold statewide) – Note: Sacramento Police Department has proactively terminated the use of this hold. We should support the statewide legislation to that same end.
7.Support of AB1506 by Assemblymember McCarty, which establishes two oversight arms inside the California Department of Justice:
a. Statewide Deadly Force Investigation unit
b. Statewide Police Practices division
8.Report to Council with a comprehensive analysis of the recent protests.
9.Full review of the ‘8 that Can’t Wait’ policy recommendations and an update to Council on implementation.
10.A full discussion of funding available to community partners helping to reduce crime, violence and gun activity in neighborhoods. Make additional funding available to community partners advancing community policing initiatives. Implement outcomes based funding criteria and guarantee funding based on achieving and reporting outcomes.
11.Mayor & Council Roundtable made up of diverse community leaders who meet to discuss city policies, procedures, goals, budgets and hiring. While the group would be advisory they would also meet regularly and actively discuss opportunities to address investment, education, equity and diversity in our city across all departments.
12.Staff review and report back to Council on compliance with AB392 & SB230.
13.Role of the Police Commission
a. Legal counsel review of Police Commission recommendations, and then forward with advisement to City Council.
b. Appropriately staff the commission.
a. The Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol both need to adopt and implement body worn cameras.
b. Also regionally, while the City of Sacramento has identified a detox center as a Covid-19 need, we need the County to reopen and reinvest in a permanent mental health facility.
It is important that all City staff receive a wealth of training, support, feedback and that they are well educated and well paid, creating the highest standards possible. Their job scopes should align with the training and educational qualifications of the positions for which they were hired.
I believe these reforms, restructures, investments and commitments are important components to Sacramento’s collective future and pursuit of unity and equity.