PAC to be component of new police oversight plan
The City of Davis is accepting applications for the Police Accountability Commission (PAC). The PAC will enable a forum of open communication between the residents of Davis and the Davis Police Department. The commission is a part of the city’s larger police oversight plan, which will also include an independent police auditor.
The PAC includes planning a community outreach plan with the independent police auditor, providing input to police department policies and reviewing police misconduct complaints.
Within the community outreach plan, regularly-scheduled meetings will be conducted. These meetings will be open to the public and will be coordinated with organizations of unrepresented groups so that they have a chance to be heard.
“I expect that our culture around policing will gradually change from one of anxiety to one of trust and respect,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Gloria Partida. “Any encounter with law enforcement is fraught with stress and dread. This is just the nature of our system. People that have either called the police for help or are having an encounter due to an infraction are having a bad day. The police from their position of power can hold the space these interactions take place in with empathy, respect and professionalism. This can really change a community.”
The proposal for a new police oversight system has been a work in progress since April 2017. After the former police auditor stepped down, a discussion arose about the current state of the police oversight system among the Davis community. An incident with the police that occured during Picnic Day of 2017 also incited a call for change.
“In 2017, the [police auditor] chose not to renew his contract, so at that time the city council decided to take another look at our police oversight, hired some consultants to come,” said Carrie Dyer, the city’s administrative analyst. “One of the consultant’s recommendations was to change the auditor position a little bit and to create this Police Accountability Commission.”
This isn’t the first time that there’s been a revision in the police oversight system. In 2006, a three-part system was introduced for police oversight. This included a community advisory board, a police auditor and the police advisory commission. However, the former PAC disbanded in 2010.
This past PAC had three members — a former police chief and two attorneys. Their roles were to review citizen complaint investigations against employees of the Davis Police Department. The new PAC will be larger — with nine members and one alternate — and more diverse. At least two of these members should have had previous interactions with the DPD. One member, a UCD student, shall be appointed by UCD. The members will serve one to four years.
However, according to Francesca Wright, the People Power of Davis chair, PAC members should have more qualifications. The authorizing resolution states that two of the members have had previous interactions with the police, yet these interactions can be both positive or negative. Wright, along with People Power, took the stance that these interactions should be limited to adverse ones.
“Recruitment should seek engagement with residents who have had adverse interactions with the police,” Wright said. “Law enforcement officers from any jurisdiction and anyone with ties to the [DPD] should be selected as members of the commission.”
Additionally, Wright expressed how it would be more beneficial if the commission had a role that isn’t just an advisory role, but one that can measure progress on the goals it sets.
“First and foremost, the primary role of the commission is not to promote and is not an outreach arm — it’s to promote accountability,” Wright said. “They should employ outreach and community engagements strategies to identify what the communities want and metrics to measure progress towards those goals. Without metrics you don’t have accountability and what’s currently proposed does not provide accountability.
Yet, Partida hopes that the police department and the Police Accountability Commission will work together. Once the applications are collected, the applicants will then be interviewed by the commission subcommittee. The city council will then appoint the members for the committee.
“Our hope is that it will be collaborative,” Partida said. “The Davis Police Department has committed to embracing new policing policies. We recognize that often it takes a while to get from ideals to realities, but we have a good road map in place and expect to see good results.”
Written by: Hannan Waliullah – firstname.lastname@example.org