Here are those four recommendations from the July 18-19, 2020 Community Forum on Racism & Interactions with the Petaluma Police Department. These recommendations still await a response from the City of Petaluma and the Petaluma Police Department. The full September 2020 report of the forum can be found in pdf form here. The forum was organized by the North Bay Organizing Project of Petaluma, Indivisible Petaluma, the Sonoma County Black Coalition, and Petaluma TIDE (Team for Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity in grades K-12).
The upcoming Petaluma City Council meeting of Monday, December 21 will be the last opportunity for the existing council to address these recommendations.
Though a broad, multiracial group of Petalumans participated in the forum which produced these recommendations, they clearly provided some of the inspiration for the political hit piece funded by incumbent council members Mike Healy, Kathy Miller, and Gabe Kearny, which falsely suggested that challenger Dennis Pocekay wished to eliminate and defund the police, and the fear-the-radical-left fear mongering prominently displayed in the race in general. – RR
Recommendation #1: Defund the police and reinvest in communities.
- Allocate a portion of the police budget to a separate department or organization(s) that would address community needs including but not limited to mental health services, addiction recovery programs, housing, and education.
- Create an unarmed first responder unit composed of social workers and mental health professionals, including evaluating the feasibility and community interest in adopting a CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) style program.
- Eliminate campus police programs and replace them with qualified counseling teams that reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the student body.
- Demilitarize the police by reviewing the purchase of arms for the police department and the use of military-grade vehicles.
Recommendation #2: Establish Independent Oversight Committee
- Form an independent oversight committee for policing in Petaluma. An oversight committee will ensure our City has updated practices on training and hiring officers, that policies are in place to protect the public’s access to information about misconduct, and that a structure is provided to host and evaluate community input about policing accountability in Petaluma.
- Ensure that the oversight committee oversees and manages a hotline or online reporting system so that complaints of misconduct are reviewed independently of the law enforcement agency.
- One percent (1%) of the City’s current police budget should be dedicated to establishing and maintaining an independent oversight committee.
- Advise the Police Department to form a trusting relationship with the community by creating opportunities for officers to engage with community members to increase their understanding of societal causes and consequences of problems that arise from historically racist policies.
Recommendation #3: End Police Violence
- Revise Petaluma’s police use of force continuum including immediate and permanent removal of the carotid hold from police policy manuals.
- Immediate expansion of the de-escalation portion of police policy.
- Increased transparency around the reporting of the use of force in situations of mutual aid in other jurisdictions.
Recommendation #4: Hold Police Accountable
- Establish departmental policies that implement and update police accountability guidelines, including but not limited to:
- a) Laws that make it illegal to hire officers who were previously fired or resigned due to misconduct.
- b) Define and evaluate the rules and causes for the police stopping of BIPOC residents. To achieve this will require the establishment of public data systems to track critical information about policing (arrest information, demographics, charges, conviction history, and jail and prison population information).
- Host community listening sessions via the newly established Independent Oversight Committee.
- Post an anti-racist statement about “zero tolerance for hate” on the City and police department website and promote adoption by City businesses to model for the community the importance of being anti-racist.
- Review hiring practices to ensure the recruitment of a more ethnically, racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse police force.