A couple of days ago I distributed a flyer announcing the first “Chat with the Chief” meeting of 2009. The initial purpose of that meeting was to discuss crime and violence and the Department’s 2009 goals and objectives.
However, I have decided to amend the agenda (the date, time and location remains the same) based on the recent BART Shooting incident and the racial profiling controversy in Palo Alto. These incidents have brought into question the issue of police accountability and police-community relations.
Although these recent incidents did not occur in our city, and I believe our officers are extremely professional and respectful to the community, we cannot pretend that they issues do not affect us or that we are somehow immune to such incidents and controversies. Rather, we must demonstrate the historic courage this community has always demonstrated and take these issues head on by engaging in vigorous discussion and debate about police accountability and police-community relations.
This meeting will provide residents a forum to discuss these issues with the Chief, share their concerns and frustrations, provide suggestions on how to better provide police services, and learn about the policies and practices of the Police Department.
I will provide an overview of the Department’s efforts to enhance its professionalism and accountability to the community, to include a review of:
· Use of force policy, including deadly force
· Use of force investigations
· Protocol for Officer-Involved Shootings
· Citizen complaint policy and process
· Professional Standards Division
· Racial profiling policy and data collection
There will also be ample time provided for questions and answers, and to discuss the many and complex issues surrounding police accountability, such as hiring and training standards for officers, discipline, early intervention systems, diversity, civilian oversight, and community policing.
Some may wonder why we would engage in such a discussion and possibly open up “Pandora’s box”. Engaging in such a discussion will likely stir emotions and, in some cases, even anger based on personal experiences. However, these risks are necessary if we are to maintain your trust and confidence. And as you know, we cannot effectively fight crime and violence without your trust and confidence.
I look forward to seeing you at the “Chat” on January 15, 2009, 6:00 p.m. at City Hall, 2415 University Avenue.