The City Council is scheduled to begin the conversation on police reform in Pleasanton on Tuesday evening by reviewing the proposed action plan for guiding future public meetings and decision-making.
The online special meeting will focus on the draft document, which aims to facilitate "community listening session(s), a process for review of existing police department policies and procedures, and consideration of near- and long-term policy goals for community policing -- to be incorporated into the city's workplan and budget process," according to the agenda.
A full community listening session, with an open mic format, would follow one week later -- July 21 -- under the proposed schedule.
"The City of Pleasanton and Pleasanton Police Department (PPD) are committed to transparency, listening, learning and improving the way policing is performed in our community," City Manager Nelson Fialho and Police Chief David Swing wrote in a joint staff report to the council.
"While PPD has longstanding and demonstrated success of accountability to the community it serves, the City embraces this opportunity to discuss policing in Pleasanton and how it could change," they added.
Tuesday evening's special meeting will allow public comments, of up to three minutes each, focused only on the proposed action plan as listed on the agenda. As a special meeting, there will be no open comment period (non-agenda public comment) as occurs with a regular meeting.
It will be held virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place restrictions, and public speakers need to register beforehand.
A precursor meeting to the overarching police reform debate in Pleasanton, the special session was scheduled at the request of Vice Mayor Kathy Narum -- backed by Councilman Jerry Pentin and Mayor Jerry Thorne -- to have city administrators draft an action plan to outline how the police policy review process would play out. Councilwomen Julie Testa and Karla Brown instead pushed for the first community listening session to be as soon as possible, with Testa recommending July 7 or 14.
As a result, Fialho and Swing created a three-point plan and proposed timetable for council consideration.
The first phase would involve a "community listening session/council workshop" recommended to take place on July 21 at 6:30 p.m.
"No staff report or presentation would be proposed for this evening. Instead, the open-mic format would enable the community to address the Council regarding desired police reform locally, relay their direct experiences with PPD, and other related topics," Fialho and Swing said.
"The primary goal is to create an environment that welcomes feedback and difficult conversations regarding policing in Pleasanton," they added.
July 21 is on the calendar as a night for a regular council meeting, so Fialho and Swing suggest rescheduling the regular meeting for Aug. 4 to conduct normal city business and leave July 21 for only the listening session.
An alternative, they said, would be to leave July 21 intact as a regular meeting and set the listening session for July 28.
The second phase of the plan would involve a review of existing PPD policies and procedures, including possibly a comprehensive discussion on use-of-force rules and the "21st Century Policing" initiative.
If the council supports, Fialho and Swing said a meeting on use-of-force policies could follow on Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. It could focus on the "8 Can't Wait" topics: chokeholds, shooting at moving vehicles, de-escalation, exhaust all alternatives before using force, warning before shooting, comprehensive reporting, duty to intervene when another officer uses inappropriate force and the "reasonableness" standard.
A session could then take place on Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. on the six pillars of 21st Century Policing: building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education, and officer safety and wellness.
"These areas of review can be expanded based on Council and community interest. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point for discussion and collaboration," Swing and Fialho wrote.
"As with any public review process, it will be important to be clear about the issues, adopt a mindset of inquiry, and leave each meeting with a list of action items," they said. "To keep the community engaged and updated throughout the proposed timeline, the City will establish a website to complement this phase of the public review process."
The final phase would focus on setting near- and long-term policy goals for community policing, along with discussions on allocation and reallocation of city funds to address community concerns.
"In this critical time of national concern about police legitimacy and criticism of the law enforcement profession, there is a genuine need and desire to overcome complex societal issues and promote effective crime reduction while continuing to build public trust," Fialho and Swing said to close their staff report.
"This proposed draft action plan provides a framework for thoughtful and intentional discussions regarding police reform in Pleasanton, including a reasonable timeline for implementation of each step," they added.
The special meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (July 14). The council members will participate remotely via video conferencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents can watch online and offer comments by phone, Zoom or email. Speaker cards are due by 7 p.m. Tuesday; submission information is here.