REGIONAL — On the heels of a Contra Costa County declaration, Alameda County supervisors laid out plans to deal with institutional racism.
Alameda supervisors have not linked racism to public health, as have those in Contra Costa, but they have taken an approach that tries to arrive at the “same destination,” said Supervisor Nate Miley, who wrote a plan for the county. His Fourth District includes Pleasanton, as well as Castro Valley and parts of Oakland.
Alameda County is refining a formal apology for the wrongs of slavery, paying reparations through programs that would benefit black businesses and other institutions, and splitting mental health services away from police duties as much as possible, so that mental health issues in apparent offenders can be dealt with appropriately, according to Miley.
Richard Valle — District 2 supervisor whose territory includes parts of Sunol and Fremont as well as Hayward and Union City — has been meeting informally with police chiefs and the sheriff’s office to talk about what mental health services the county might provide. The effort aims to keep officers focused on policing actions. Valle told the board on Oct. 6 that some situations don’t need police presence. Instead, bringing in county-funded mental health professionals would be a good use of resources.
Keith Carson, the county’s other black supervisor, is helping Miley with program details. His district includes Berkeley, Albany and a part of Oakland.
Carson thanked Miley at the board’s Oct. 6 meeting for inviting him to help with the goals of looking into reparations. He noted that racial discrimination has a long history in California. The first governor in 1849 helped create a law designed to keep freed slaves out of the state.
Haubert Has Social Justice Plan
In Alameda County’s First District, Supervisor-elect David Haubert — who represents his hometown of Dublin, Livermore and part of Fremont — will spend his first day on the job on Jan. 4.
During the campaign, Haubert issued a Social Justice Action Plan. His points include a focus on hiring with more diversity in mind. The federal government set goals and timetables to promote diversity within its government contractors and federal departments, said Haubert. The state and county should set goals and meet them, using its Affirmative Action Plan.
Better training by using consultants who have experience in the field of bias-free hiring are also important, said Haubert. A new position, Chief Equity Officer, needs to be created to help monitor progress. Haubert also favors calling in the state Attorney General’s office to start a formal review of situations where an officer used force that resulted in death or harm.
Haubert supports banning chokeholds and other modifications of police rules that would de-escalate use of force situations. He also would ban shooting at moving vehicles.
Idea Behind Public Health Link
The discussion around the link between racism and public health didn’t start in 2020, but it’s gained traction following national events that again placed a spotlight on police brutality and racial inequities.
Contra Costa supervisors took the action at their Nov. 10 meeting to establish a special office of “racial equality and social justice ” to treat the problem. They are not the first to draw the link between institutional racism and public health. Milwaukee County in Wisconsin did the same in 2019.