Letter From Community Activist to Elk Grove City Council, Police Seeks Robust Community Policing Commission

January 16, 2018 |  

A letter penned on January 15 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day - and sent to the Elk Grove City Council seeks the formation of a community policing commission. 

The letter, which was also sent to Elk Grove Police Chief Bryan Noblett and city manager Laura Gill, lays out several items they request for the soon-to-be-formed community advisory board. The formation of that committee was first presented at the Wednesday, January 10 meeting of the Elk Grove City Council.

At that meeting, the city council received a report and several recommendations from the American Leadership Foundation following community meetings on race relations in Elk Grove. Those meetings were held after several racially motivated hate incidents that occurred in 2017.

One of the recommendations included the formation by Noblett of a community advisory board. While details of that board are fleshed-out, the letter sent by the community activist from Elk Grove and Sacramento offers several specific requests.

Noting that many cities only address problems after situations occur "that drive a wedged between the community and its law enforcement agencies," the signatories urge a proactive approach. The letter notes "Such discord is detrimental to the community and dangerous to law enforcement personnel. We are confident that a pro-active approach will yield a better result."

The letter seeks two broad recommendations - the creation of a community policing commission and great availability of public date on the police force. Within each general recommendations are several more specific requests.

There are seven specific requests for the formation of the community policing commission. Those demands include that commission be independent; authority to review department policy; conduct independent investigations; budget review; access to police department data; subpoena power; and involvement in the hiring of any future department chief. 

While Noblett expressed support of an advisory board at last week's city council meetings, the letter requests that the body, which they called a commission, would exempt former police officers and city employees from serving. The request says "The Commission shall be 100-percent external to the police department and will be supported by one part-time professional civilian investigator." 

With regards to the requests for the increased access to police files, the group requests release of all video associated with officer-involved shooting; coordination with the county coroner to notify families affected by those shootings; adoption of a use of force of policy that encourages transparency; and implementation of a body camera "consistent with council policy and law." 

Traditionally police departments and officers are generally resistant to outside oversight. Becasue of the this, the group also sent a letter to the Elk Grove Police Officers Association seeking cooperation. That letter said "We are committed to working with the EGPOA, EGPD and the Council to bring about an effective Community Policing Commission."

The correspondence with the city council and the police department included resolutions passed by the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Sacramento County in support of the proposals.

The signatories on the letter include Betty Williams, NAACP - Sacramento; Tanya Faison, Black Lives Matter - Sacramento; Parveen Tumber, American Sikh Public Affairs Association;Basim Elkarra, Council on American Islamic Relations - Sacramento; Andy Noguchi, Japanese American Citizens League - Florin; Miguel Cordova, Sacramento Latino Democratic Club; Amar Shergill, Executive Board Member, California Democratic Party.

The Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club resolution was sponsored by Tracie Stafford, Maureen Craft, Jaclyn Moreno, Andres Ramos, Amar Shergill, Robert Longer, Fabrizio Sasso, Ricky Barreto.

While the letter laid-out specific demands, it did acknowledge Noblett's willingness to publish department policies and openness to discuss the issue. The letter states "This type of commitment to constructive dialogue and transparency is an example for all communities to follow."

The letter can be viewed here.

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

With all due respect, I find this effort to be admirable in principle, but like a duck out of water in Elk Grove.

First, Elk Grove is not a progressive community like Berkeley, Oakland, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz, or Davis. Don't believe me? Just count the typical number of citizen participants attending a typical city council or planning commission meeting. Hint: only one hand is necessary!

Second, since Elk Grove is not a progressive community that functions with a high level of citizen participation, local elections are usually benign and lacking of real substance, issues-wise. This means there is usually no incentive for incumbents to break their pattern of governing and take unnecessary political risks.

Third, the power elite of Elk Grove politics have solidified their position and a few signatures on a letter or soundbites on a local news station are not going to disrupt the status quo.

An apathetic voter base who primarily cares about shopping opportunities, youth soccer, and their government-job security are not inclined to latch onto peripheral issues that do not affect them personally I am afraid.

This is not to say that the issue of police oversight is not worthy of serious consideration, but given that the majority of voters don't even know where City Hall is, it is doubtful that our leaders will choose to upset the apple cart. This is how incumbents stay in power.

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