The Livermore City Council committed on Monday to move quickly to enact comprehensive reforms, inspired by mostly peaceful protests around the world sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A proposal laid out by City Councilman Bob Carling calls for an initial focus on examining police policies, procedures, practices now in place, looking at areas of improvement, tracking and accountability, followed by a deeper dive into whether racial biases within city government perpetuate racial injustice.
The process would be public and transparent, and seek a community-led effort to find solutions to a wide variety of societal problems, which could stretch into areas of education, housing and economic inequality.
“We as city leaders should look at how we conduct ourselves,” he said. “Are we looking at including everybody in terms of hiring practices? How do we reach out to communities that often don’t participate in, say, the advisory boards?”
A discussion item is scheduled to be placed on the city council’s next regular meeting on June 22, at 7 p.m., with a draft outline expected to come back to the council on July 6.
Carling, who participated in a few of the protest rallies in Livermore, emphasized the importance of moving forward with urgency and crafting a plan based on substantial involvement of schools and a large swath of members of the community.
“I think the frustration for some of the community is ‘how long does all this take?’” he said.
Livermore City Manager Marc Roberts advised the more fundamental the change, the longer it will take to implement. He said the council might want to break down some of its action items into short- and long-term goals, as it has when tackling other large and complex problems.
As state and federal lawmakers move to enact policing reform legislation aimed at preventing police officers from killing civilians, the laws and requirements Livermore police must follow are likely to be rewritten soon.
“That groundwork is changing,” Roberts said. “In fact, a more useful community dialogue might happen once we have a better idea of what changes are going to be mandated from the state, and how do we leverage off of those and make the most of those opportunities.”
Livermore’s elected leaders were inundated with calls and emails earlier this week demanding changes to its policing practices.
The nonprofit police reform organization Campaign Zero launched a website for its “8 Can’t Wait” campaign that urges cities to adopt eight police use-of-force restrictions, like banning choke-holds and shooting at moving vehicles, which it says have proven to significantly reduce police-involved killings where implemented.
According to the organization, Livermore has implemented three of the eight policies. However, some references to the city’s police manual appear to show an earlier version than the one currently posted to the city’s website.
In response, Livermore Police Chief Michael Harris is addressing each of the eight use-of-force policies in a series of Facebook posts he will publish over the next week. The council asked for those policy discussions to be republished in the June 22 council agenda packet.
Meanwhile, Livermore Mayor John Marchand took the Mayor’s Pledge to address police use of force policies. The Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is calling on mayors across the nation to commit to reform.
“We all need to stand up and share with you that commitment,” Carling said.
Vice Mayor Bob Woerner said he shared Carling’s commitment and sense of urgency.
“We want to do something about it,” Woerner said. “But to actually do something substantive at these deep levels of culture is going to take a while. The first thing is that we actually convey that we’ve heard that black lives matter.”
On May 26, Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, after being arrested for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase a pack of cigarettes. A viral video of the encounter reignited a national movement demanding police reform and racial justice.
While Floyd, 46 years old, was handcuffed and face down on the street, Chauvin pinned down Floyd’s neck with his knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, leading to his death. With his dying breaths, he called out to his mother who died two years ago.
Marchand closed Monday’s City Council meeting in Floyd’s memory. Floyd was laid to rest near his mother in Houston on Tuesday.