Congratulations to the young people of Pleasanton for organizing the amazing protests last week in response to racial violence by police. They have resoundingly pierced the Pleasanton bubble of willful indifference to important national and global issues. It holds great hope for our future as a society.
But many Pleasantonians are unaware that we have had our own problems with police violence. While not racially motivated, three individuals have been killed by our police in the last five years, using what many consider excessive force, while being arrested or detained. At least two of these individuals were in emotional distress at the time of their arrest and were unresponsive to police techniques to forcefully gain their compliance.
In the wake of the George Floyd killing there has been calls across the country for local police department reform. These include the institution of cultural and racially competent policing strategies, prohibition of the use of choke holds, lower legal standards to pursue criminal and civil penalties for police, a national registry to track misconduct, the de-militarization of crowd control, an emphasis on de-escalation, non-lethal force in mental health emergencies, defunding police in lieu of improved social services, and the establishment of civilian and citizen oversight of police polices and activities.
The Pleasanton city government has long resisted calls for changes like this. It’s time for Pleasanton to emerge from its bubble, get on the right side of history, and join these calls for police reform.