With an eye toward collaboration, the Pleasanton Police Department is seeking community members to voice their thoughts about important issues affecting the department and serve as one of at least a dozen members on a Community Advisory Board that's being formed.
"The chief's citizen advisory board is really designed to be a vehicle that helps us connect with all segments of our community and to hear voices and perspectives from Pleasanton residents and employers," Police Chief David Swing told the Weekly in an exclusive interview last week ahead of the application launch date this Friday.
After a series of community conversations about policing in Pleasanton following the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last year, PPD and city officials decided to form a CAB comprised of residents to discuss and advise them on matters such as mental health response and use of force.
At least 12 members from the community will be selected to serve a two-year term on the voluntary board, which Swing said is meant "to provide a conduit that's a two-way communication conduit that allows us to hear from and be heard."
Because "it's critically important for us to have a citizen advisory board that reflects the diversity of Pleasanton," a range of ages, experiences and opinions will be represented, and membership is open to anyone over 18 who lives, works or owns a business in Pleasanton, according to Swing.
Though individuals convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors within 12 months of applying are not eligible to serve, he said there may be opportunity to do so in the future.
"I can tell you unequivocally that a criminal conviction is not going to result in someone being excluded," Swing said. "Let's say that someone made a mistake, committed a crime in their youth and long since have been a longstanding contributing member to our community -- we're going to look at that as well."
The seriousness of the violation, as well as "time and distance" since it occurred, will also be factored. "The human race is not a perfect race; we all have our mistakes we've made, and if someone wants to be on our advisory board, we're going to look at the totality of their background to determine the suitability of that placement," Swing added.
CAB members will act only in an advisory manner and will not have "power or authority to investigate, review or otherwise participate in matters involving specific police personnel or specific police-related incidents," including complaints or any civil or criminal litigation, but they will be privy to trends by receiving updates from PPD at certain intervals, according to the chief.
"For example, every year we'll run a report that identifies the numbers of complaints received and how those complaints were resolved, so from that perspective there will be limited information sharing related to police complaints," Swing said. "That's information that's publicly available, not protected by any means, and will also provide perspective that the board may be looking for."
Swing added, "They won't have the level of detail that would allow the board to get into specific incident policy recommendations. We haven't really framed this out yet. What I do know is we'll be very careful in discussing police personnel matters because it's a very nuanced area -- and that what we do provide, we ensure the officer's rights are protected as well."
Besides attending monthly meetings with the chief of police, CAB members will also participate in major police department events like National Night Out, ceremonies and other community engagements, as well as complete PPD's Citizens Academy to become familiar with department operations.
Once the group's membership is finalized, "I think the first order of business is getting to know one another," Swing said. "Establishing some norms, some expectations for the board -- it's difficult building trust with each other collectively and individually. We know it's difficult to really engage in deep conversation and be vulnerable when we haven't built that relationship first."
Membership on the Community Advisory Board is strictly voluntary and may be removed before the end of a member's term at the police chief's discretion. All members will undergo a criminal background check prior to appointment.