News

Pleasanton council approves action plan for policing policy review

Listening session in open-mic format scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 21; virtual due to pandemic

The stage is set for a community listening session on policing in Pleasanton next week after the City Council unanimously approved staff's recommended police review action plan on Tuesday evening.

Leading off with the public meeting next Tuesday (July 21) for residents to speak to the council in an open-mic format to discuss anything and everything police, the three-part action plan also calls for future review of existing Pleasanton Police Department policies and procedures, and consideration of near- and long-term policy goals for community policing.

"For me, the ultimate outcomes of this action plan, it has to be right for our community … Whatever we do, the changes that we make, they need to be the right thing for this community," Vice Mayor Kathy Narum said during the council's three-hour-plus online meeting.

"I want to be clear that I think our police are doing a great job in keeping our community safe," Narum added. "Can they do better? Of course. And I think it's important to challenge ourselves and to look at that to see what we can improve on."

"I want to just take a minute and say how much I appreciate having this conversation … (and) how much I appreciate our police department and our officers," Councilwoman Julie Testa said. "I just think this is an opportunity that will just make our department better, will serve our officers better and will serve our community better."

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support PleasantonWeekly.com for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Testa initially pushed for more "substance" at next week's meeting beyond just a listening session, saying the council already heard from nearly 40 speakers on various sides of the debate Tuesday night, but she later voted with her colleagues to keep a listening-only format for the upcoming session.

It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 21 as an online-only meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shelter-in-place health order.

This week's meeting, a precursor to the overarching police reform debate in Pleasanton, was organized at Narum's request last month -- backed by Councilman Jerry Pentin and Mayor Jerry Thorne -- to have city administrators draft an action plan beforehand to outline how the police policy review process would play out.

Testa and Councilwoman Karla Brown had instead argued for the first listening session to be as soon as possible, with Testa recommending July 7 or 14, rather than holding an intermediary meeting focused solely on an action plan before hearing from residents.

In response to the council majority, City Manager Nelson Fialho and Police Chief David Swing created a three-point plan and proposed timetable for council consideration. Swing is less than two months on the job in Pleasanton, after moving over from the Morgan Hill Police Department where he was also police chief.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

"The goal is to initiate a public discussion regarding community policing in Pleasanton in response to local and national calls for police reform," Fialho told the council Tuesday night.

"While our department has a longstanding and demonstrated success of accountability to the community it serves, both the city and the department do embrace the opportunity to discuss policing in our community and how it could possibly change," said Fialho, adding this is the first time in his 24 years working for the city that there has been such a conversation on local police policy.

The action plan -- ultimately approved by the council as recommended -- will begin with a first phase consisting of next week's "community listening session/council workshop."

"No formal action will be taken that evening … No staff presentation. No report. Instead, it would be an open-mic format that would enable the community to address the council regarding desired police reform locally, relay any direct experiences with the department or the city, or any other related topics," Fialho said.

"The primary goal is to create an environment that welcomes feedback and difficult conversations regarding policing in general, including in our community," he said.

The second phase of the plan will 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.

As recommended, a meeting on use-of-force policies is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. It would 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.

Another session would follow 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.

Those meeting topics were designed as starting points, and the list could be expanded in the future as desired by the council, Fialho said.

The final phase would focus on setting near- and long-term policy goals for community policing in late 2020 or early 2021, along with discussions on allocation and reallocation of city funds to address community concerns.

Tuesday's special meeting with the lone agenda item drew nearly four-dozen citizen speakers -- in total, 60 residents submitted requests to speak but about a dozen dropped off the Zoom call before their name was called.

The public discussion, which was supposed to focus explicitly on the draft action plan, heard a few speakers talk about the proposal itself while most others expressed their views on overarching police reform or police advocacy topics.

The citizen comments over the 2-1/2 hours spanned the gamut, from ardent police supporters and opponents of so-called "defunding police" movements to people who commended PPD but saw clear areas for improvement to stauncher police reformists and residents who wanted city funds redirected away from PPD to other services.

"I feel the Pleasanton Police Department has been exceptional," resident John Sensiba said. "So I'm concerned that the conversation about defunding the police, on a national level, could be impacting our decisions at the local level … I believe the funding level for the police department is appropriate."

"Pleasanton isn't safe on accident. There's no shield that goes up on our borders that keeps violence and crime and harmful things out of our town. We're safe because our police force makes us safe," resident Jill Buck told the council.

"There's been three high-profile deaths at the hands of Pleasanton police: John Deming Jr., Shannon Estill and my son, Jacob Bauer. All three could have been avoided had the responding Pleasanton police officers acted differently," John Bauer said. "79% of the country believes that police brutality is a problem."

"These people are crying out for change because they care, because they feel compassion for those who are less privileged, for Black and brown people, for people with addiction problems, for mentally ill people," resident Isaac Elias said. "And I pray that that change will happen and that you will act with more urgency."

The council members generally held back on offering comments about specific policy points Tuesday night, saying they wanted to wait until after hearing from the community next week.

Brown, along with Testa, did open the discussion with brief statements trying to dispel emails and other rumors they said misrepresented their positions about police funding.

"There are people saying that I support defunding the police," Brown said later on. "I have never supported defunding the police. No one that I know of on the council has ever supported defunding the police."

Next week's community listening session is expected to start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (July 21).

The council members will participate remotely via video conferencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents can watch online live and offer comments by phone, Zoom or email. To submit a speaker card or find out details on how to watch or stream the meeting, visit www.cityofpleasantonca.gov.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow PleasantonWeekly.com and the Pleasanton Weekly on Twitter @pleasantonnews, Facebook and on Instagram @pleasantonweekly for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Pleasanton council approves action plan for policing policy review

Listening session in open-mic format scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 21; virtual due to pandemic

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jul 15, 2020, 1:22 am

The stage is set for a community listening session on policing in Pleasanton next week after the City Council unanimously approved staff's recommended police review action plan on Tuesday evening.

Leading off with the public meeting next Tuesday (July 21) for residents to speak to the council in an open-mic format to discuss anything and everything police, the three-part action plan also calls for future review of existing Pleasanton Police Department policies and procedures, and consideration of near- and long-term policy goals for community policing.

"For me, the ultimate outcomes of this action plan, it has to be right for our community … Whatever we do, the changes that we make, they need to be the right thing for this community," Vice Mayor Kathy Narum said during the council's three-hour-plus online meeting.

"I want to be clear that I think our police are doing a great job in keeping our community safe," Narum added. "Can they do better? Of course. And I think it's important to challenge ourselves and to look at that to see what we can improve on."

"I want to just take a minute and say how much I appreciate having this conversation … (and) how much I appreciate our police department and our officers," Councilwoman Julie Testa said. "I just think this is an opportunity that will just make our department better, will serve our officers better and will serve our community better."

Testa initially pushed for more "substance" at next week's meeting beyond just a listening session, saying the council already heard from nearly 40 speakers on various sides of the debate Tuesday night, but she later voted with her colleagues to keep a listening-only format for the upcoming session.

It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 21 as an online-only meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shelter-in-place health order.

This week's meeting, a precursor to the overarching police reform debate in Pleasanton, was organized at Narum's request last month -- backed by Councilman Jerry Pentin and Mayor Jerry Thorne -- to have city administrators draft an action plan beforehand to outline how the police policy review process would play out.

Testa and Councilwoman Karla Brown had instead argued for the first listening session to be as soon as possible, with Testa recommending July 7 or 14, rather than holding an intermediary meeting focused solely on an action plan before hearing from residents.

In response to the council majority, City Manager Nelson Fialho and Police Chief David Swing created a three-point plan and proposed timetable for council consideration. Swing is less than two months on the job in Pleasanton, after moving over from the Morgan Hill Police Department where he was also police chief.

"The goal is to initiate a public discussion regarding community policing in Pleasanton in response to local and national calls for police reform," Fialho told the council Tuesday night.

"While our department has a longstanding and demonstrated success of accountability to the community it serves, both the city and the department do embrace the opportunity to discuss policing in our community and how it could possibly change," said Fialho, adding this is the first time in his 24 years working for the city that there has been such a conversation on local police policy.

The action plan -- ultimately approved by the council as recommended -- will begin with a first phase consisting of next week's "community listening session/council workshop."

"No formal action will be taken that evening … No staff presentation. No report. Instead, it would be an open-mic format that would enable the community to address the council regarding desired police reform locally, relay any direct experiences with the department or the city, or any other related topics," Fialho said.

"The primary goal is to create an environment that welcomes feedback and difficult conversations regarding policing in general, including in our community," he said.

The second phase of the plan will 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.

As recommended, a meeting on use-of-force policies is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. It would 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.

Another session would follow 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.

Those meeting topics were designed as starting points, and the list could be expanded in the future as desired by the council, Fialho said.

The final phase would focus on setting near- and long-term policy goals for community policing in late 2020 or early 2021, along with discussions on allocation and reallocation of city funds to address community concerns.

Tuesday's special meeting with the lone agenda item drew nearly four-dozen citizen speakers -- in total, 60 residents submitted requests to speak but about a dozen dropped off the Zoom call before their name was called.

The public discussion, which was supposed to focus explicitly on the draft action plan, heard a few speakers talk about the proposal itself while most others expressed their views on overarching police reform or police advocacy topics.

The citizen comments over the 2-1/2 hours spanned the gamut, from ardent police supporters and opponents of so-called "defunding police" movements to people who commended PPD but saw clear areas for improvement to stauncher police reformists and residents who wanted city funds redirected away from PPD to other services.

"I feel the Pleasanton Police Department has been exceptional," resident John Sensiba said. "So I'm concerned that the conversation about defunding the police, on a national level, could be impacting our decisions at the local level … I believe the funding level for the police department is appropriate."

"Pleasanton isn't safe on accident. There's no shield that goes up on our borders that keeps violence and crime and harmful things out of our town. We're safe because our police force makes us safe," resident Jill Buck told the council.

"There's been three high-profile deaths at the hands of Pleasanton police: John Deming Jr., Shannon Estill and my son, Jacob Bauer. All three could have been avoided had the responding Pleasanton police officers acted differently," John Bauer said. "79% of the country believes that police brutality is a problem."

"These people are crying out for change because they care, because they feel compassion for those who are less privileged, for Black and brown people, for people with addiction problems, for mentally ill people," resident Isaac Elias said. "And I pray that that change will happen and that you will act with more urgency."

The council members generally held back on offering comments about specific policy points Tuesday night, saying they wanted to wait until after hearing from the community next week.

Brown, along with Testa, did open the discussion with brief statements trying to dispel emails and other rumors they said misrepresented their positions about police funding.

"There are people saying that I support defunding the police," Brown said later on. "I have never supported defunding the police. No one that I know of on the council has ever supported defunding the police."

Next week's community listening session is expected to start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (July 21).

The council members will participate remotely via video conferencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents can watch online live and offer comments by phone, Zoom or email. To submit a speaker card or find out details on how to watch or stream the meeting, visit www.cityofpleasantonca.gov.

Comments

Wendy
Del Prado
on Jul 15, 2020 at 9:12 am
Wendy, Del Prado
on Jul 15, 2020 at 9:12 am
15 people like this

I would like to commend all the Pleasanton residents that submitted comment cards for last night’s city council meeting. Although not all 60 individuals were able to speak, possibly due to technical issues what I did hear from many were thoughtful statements, especially from many of our younger citizens. Police reform is an important issue and knowing that our city leadership and PPD are listening and wanting to improve is a step in the right direction. As a middle-aged white woman I have had only positive interactions with the PPD, but as mentioned by multiple speakers we need to consider everyone in our community, not just ourselves. Those with mental health issues, people of color, and folks with housing insecurity are at a greater risk in every community including Pleasanton. With appropriate changes we can make Pleasanton safer for all. Reallocating funding for greater mental health crisis interaction and social services will not only help the most vulnerable, but will keep our community including our police officers safer. The sooner we can actually make constructive changes the better.


Fix what isn’t broken
Amador Estates
on Jul 15, 2020 at 9:31 am
Fix what isn’t broken, Amador Estates
on Jul 15, 2020 at 9:31 am
26 people like this

In case you missed it, I will sum it up for you. A bunch of high school kids indoctrinated by their liberal teachers want to defund your police department. Despite having a 95% approval rating from Pleasanton citizens, some of these kids want to radically revamp the police department to accommodate the 5% who do not like the police and alienate the rest of you. Our city council is prepared to fold whichever way the wind blows. This is a knee jerk reaction to a problem our city does not have. Police reform is not needed in Pleasanton. Additional funding for support services for homeless and those with mental health issues would be warranted and the city has the budget to accommodate this.


resident
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2020 at 10:26 am
resident, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2020 at 10:26 am
5 people like this

We need a professional police force in town. It is time for changes. The Pleasanton police seems to go out of its way to receive media attention (negative) or go out its way to joke about serious matters on its Facebook page. I think they believe they are writers for a comedy show.

I for one have a big problem with the Pleasanton police sending Bay Area news stations surveillance videos of juveniles in order to get the public's help in identifying them for minor violations. The police seem to have no problem with this; however, aren't juveniles supposed to have some sort of privacy? Also certainly this was not an incident with a kidnapping or murder or something. It was vandalism of the Walnut Grove playground.

The Pleasanton police sent the footage to KRON and other media outlets including seemingly all Bay Area television stations --- Web Link

If they wanted help identifying these individuals, could they have walked in the surrounding offices of the two schools in the area and see if the staff knew who they were? Of course they could.

Instead, the Pleasanton police seems to go out of its way to achieve media attention. They broadcast these videos all over the Bay Area for .... a playground vandalism incident at a school? Absurd.

Not only that, but the Pleasanton police made unprofessional jokes about the PG&E outages throughout California, marked up hand drawn maps and posted them on Facebook, that then was broadcast internationally. I'm sure elderly residents who rely on electricity for oxygen thought that the Pleasanton Police's jokes about PG&E outages were just hilarious.


Bryant Annenberg
Downtown
on Jul 16, 2020 at 8:15 am
Bryant Annenberg, Downtown
on Jul 16, 2020 at 8:15 am
6 people like this

The last public speaker...Lada Lumkin ??? ended the meeting with an infinite amount of class and compassion.


Bryant Annenberg
Downtown
on Jul 18, 2020 at 9:09 am
Bryant Annenberg , Downtown
on Jul 18, 2020 at 9:09 am
Like this comment

Vlada Lipkind


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.