DOJ Picks Stockton for Community Policing Pilot, Dorsey Nunn, Pasadena Police Misconduct Audit, and Fullerton’s Homeless Liaison UnitMarch 16th, 2015 by Taylor Walker
STOCKTON, CA ONE OF SIX CITIES TO PILOT DOJ’S COMMUNITY POLICING INITIATIVE
Hours after the shooting of two Ferguson officers late last week, the Department of Justice announced the first six pilot cities to take part in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, a program meant to help build better relationships between cops and the communities they serve.
The pilot cities included Stockton, California, as well as Minneapolis, MN, Birmingham, AL, Fort Worth, TX, Gary, IN, and Pittsburgh, PA.
Each city will assess their current police-community relations, and apply strategies focusing on implicit bias, procedural justice, and racial reconciliation.
The process will be guided by a panel of criminal justice professionals, experts, and faith-based groups, and advocates, and includes a three-year grant to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as well as Yale Law School, UCLA’s Center for Policing Equity, and the Urban Institute.
The Stockton Record’s Jason Anderson has more on the initiative as it relates to Stockton. Here’s a clip:
“The Stockton Police Department is excited that we have been selected as one of six cities to be part of this national initiative,” Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said. “The men and women of the Stockton Police Department are very committed to building police/community trust within our community.”
City Manager Kurt Wilson lauded Stockton’s selection as a pilot site and praised Jones, who has created a number of community outreach initiatives aimed at easing tensions following a rash of officer-involved shootings in recent years.
“Chief Eric Jones is one of the most respected law enforcement leaders in the country,” Wilson said. “He has been fully engaged locally, statewide and nationally. We are thankful for his leadership, and by his team joining this initiative, we feel it will boost these leading-edge efforts, because some of his evidence-based strategies that are already under way fit into this model.”
…the program will highlight three areas that hold great promise for concrete, rapid progress: racial reconciliation, procedural justice and implicit bias.
The racial reconciliation component is described as the facilitation of frank conversations between minority communities and law enforcement that allow them to address historic tensions, grievances and misconceptions between them.
The procedural justice element will focus on how the characteristics of law enforcement interactions with the public shape the public’s views of the police, their willingness to obey the law and actual crime rates.
The implicit bias aspect of the initiative will focus on how largely unconscious psychological processes can shape authorities’ actions and lead to racially disparate outcomes even where actual racism is not present.
Pilot sites were chosen based on a list of factors such as geographic diversity, jurisdiction size, ethnic and religious composition, and population density. Also considered were each site’s history of social tensions, level of violence, economic conditions, police department size and historical strategies for addressing procedural justice, implicit bias and racial reconciliation at the local level.
A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH: DORSEY NUNN, FROM INMATE TO A CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE
Once drug-addicted and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for being involved in a fatal armed robbery, Dorsey Nunn, is now the co-founder of All of Us or None and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children in San Francisco. Through these platforms Dorsey takes on monumental projects like fighting jail expansions, solitary confinement, and (successfully) pushing for “ban-the-box” legislation.
The LA Times’ Lee Romney has Dorsey’s remarkable story. Here are some clips:
A decade ago, All of Us or None scored its first victory when Nunn and dozens of others filled the chambers of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to demand that the box on city employment applications that asks about felony convictions be removed and the question saved for later in the hiring process.
San Francisco’s successful “ban the box” ordinance was the first in the nation, cementing the city’s ultra-left reputation and changing Nunn’s life.
He now had a voice in a debate upon which public safety and billions of taxpayer dollars hinged — one that ignites emotions over such primal questions as retribution versus redemption.
All we wanted was to have a job, be skilled, be trained and be ethical.
Susan Burton, executive director of A New Way of Life, which provides housing to formerly incarcerated women
The California District Attorneys Assn. was among opponents of statewide ban-the-box legislation in 2013, saying “all this bill will do is ensure that local agencies waste public time and resources” screening applicants who “will almost certainly be rejected” once their criminal histories are known.
But the statewide ban also passed, and Nunn is now regularly consulted by national civil rights groups and policymakers. Ban-the-box legislation has been passed in 96 cities and counties and in 13 states led by Republicans and Democrats alike, according to the National Employment Law Project. (Applications for jobs where criminal history is relevant — such as child care or law enforcement — are exempted.)
The voices of those who know the criminal-justice system from the inside have been “absolutely essential,” said Michelle Rodriguez, a senior staff attorney with the employment law project.
The movement dates to March 2003, when Nunn helped convene a crowd of about 40 formerly incarcerated men and women at Oakland’s Center for Third World Development.
They spoke for many: 70 million Americans have an arrest or conviction record, and 725,000 are released yearly from prison to communities where laws, regulations and private sector practices curtail their access to employment, housing, education and even the vote.
“All we wanted was to have a job, be skilled, be trained and be ethical,” recalled Susan Burton, 63, executive director of Los Angeles-based A New Way of Life, which provides housing to formerly incarcerated women and oversees a Southland All of Us or None chapter.
Priorities were listed on butcher paper: jobs, housing, family reunification. “Ban the box” came first.
The group would take its name from a Bertolt Brecht poem.
Slave, who is it who shall free you?/Those in deepest darkness lying,/Comrade, these alone shall see you,/They alone can hear you crying./Comrade only slaves can free you./Everything or nothing. All of us or none.
Thanks in part to All of Us or None’s amateur lobbyists, bills recently signed into law in Sacramento forbid the shackling of pregnant women, remove the prohibition on food stamps for California recipients with drug felonies, and ban the box from all state and local government applications. San Francisco extended ban-the-box practices to private employers and affordable housing, and efforts are underway to expand the ban in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
AUDIT FINDS MISCONDUCT IN PASADENA POLICE DEPARTMENT, NOT ENOUGH TRAINING, OVERSIGHT
An independent audit of the Pasadena Police Department from 2005-2009 found that homicide detectives at the Pasadena Police Department were undertrained and under-supervised, and used questionable interrogation tactics among other misdeeds.
The city requested the audit after the dismissal of a 2007 homicide case during which detectives allegedly threatened and coerced witnesses and withheld evidence.
The audit will be presented to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee today (Monday).
Pasadena-Star News’ Sarah Favot has more on the audit. Here’s a clip:
“Some officers were allowed to operate extremely close to the line of legality with little or no visible oversight from supervisors who either knew or clearly should have been aware of their subordinates’ actions,” the audit said. “These supervisors had a responsibility to the department, their subordinates and the people of Pasadena to correct theses deficiencies, but they did not. Equally important, their managers did not hold them accountable.”
The Pasadena Police Department has been under heightened scrutiny since the police shooting of Kendrec McDade, an unarmed black teen who officers shot to death on March 24, 2012.
The slaying resulted in city officials paying a $1 million settlement to Anya Slaughter and Kenneth McDade, the boy’s parents.
Local defense attorneys said the department was dirty and pointed to several instances were officers withheld evidence, beat suspects and threatened witnesses.
One of those attorneys, Andrew Stein, said Friday members of the Pasadena Police Department were no better than the gang members they sought to imprison.
“They shouldn’t have a police department,” Stein said. “It’s a farce. It’s a joke. The sheriff’s department should take over the city of Pasadena. … This conduct is not tolerable. It’s wrong and it’s only going to change when some rich, white person in Pasadena has something bad happen to them by these cowboys and then it’ll matter.”
And here’s a handful of other findings:
• When interrogations weren’t recorded, no reason was given and a supervisor wasn’t involved;
• A lack of consistent training in basic detective skills for both detectives and their supervisors;
• Supervisors weren’t involved before cases were brought before a prosecutor or before a search warrant was filed;
• When juvenile informants were used, there was no evidence the Police Department received court approval;
•The Police Department has no signage explaining to members of the public the process of making a personnel complaint;
• Detectives bargained with informants offering to charge lesser crimes for cooperation without supervisory approval…
COMMUNITY POLICING AT WORK: FULLERTON’S HOMELESS LIAISON UNIT BUILDS BETTER RELATIONS BETWEEN COPS AND HOMELESS
In 2011, Fullerton police officers beat Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man, to death while he screamed for his father.
Since then, the Fullerton Police Department have made considerable strides, boosting mental health training for officers and increasing their Homeless Liaison Unit from a one-man-show to a team of four. The unit works with a mental health care professional, connects people they meet on the streets with much-needed services, and meets with advocates and other agencies to discuss issues related to homelessness.
KPCC’s Erika Aguilar has the story. Here’s a clip:
On a warm afternoon at a Fullerton park, a homeless mentally ill man, rolling his head from side to side, carelessly revealed to a pair of officers that he might have a warrant out for his arrest. But he wasn’t sure.
“Can you check for me?” the man asked.
Fullerton police Cpl. Michael McCaskill held back.
“If I check, it might be bad for you,” he warned. “So I’m going to give you a number where you can check.”
This is the type of work four Fullerton police officers assigned to the department’s Homeless Liaison Unit are doing: building relationships with the homeless and mentally ill people in the city and guiding them to services.
Nearly four years after the brutal police beating death of Kelly Thomas — which sparked a national debate on the treatment by police of the homeless and mentally ill — police here have forged partnerships with homeless advocacy groups to connect the people officers meet on the street with service providers. They also participate in regional meetings with other law enforcement and advocacy groups on homelessness.
The reforms came after a series of reviews and reports — both internal and external — about what happened that night in October 2011.
But Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes said Thomas’s death isn’t the only reason the agency has increased its focus on the this vulnerable population.
As Orange County has become more urban, its homeless population has swelled. Hughes said the number of calls police get regarding homelessness in Fullerton has increased from about 1,400 in 2010 to more than 4,000 calls last year. That’s something no police agency could ignore.
“Even though, I don’t believe it is necessarily a police issue, it has been put on our shoulders to deal with,” said Hughes. “And so we’re trying to do that as effectively as we possible can.”