The City of Pleasanton has created a three-step plan to address the city’s current policing policies and future goals in light of the nation’s recent civil unrest.
“We want to acknowledge that this is a very important topic and the goal is to initiate a public discussion regarding community policing in Pleasanton in response to local and national calls for police reform," said Pleasanton City Manager Nelson Fiahlo, one of the architects of the three-step agenda.
The city council unanimously approved the plan on July 14 during a three-hour special meeting and public comment period, at which time dozens of residents called in to express their support and concerns regarding the Pleasanton Police Department.
The first step of the plan begins with a community listening session scheduled for Tuesday, July 21. The open-mic format is expected to allow for maximum input from the public on general and specific policing matters in the community. But there were plenty of opinions expressed at the July 14 online meeting as well.
“I feel the Pleasanton Police Department has been exceptional," said resident John Sensiba. “I believe the funding level for the police department is appropriate."
Resident Randy Brown praised the council for initiating the discussion.
“It is nearly impossible for the majority of us to understand what it means to be a person of color in our society and in our city,” he said. “It is my sincere hope that Pleasanton can become an inclusive community of allies as we move forward. I believe that Pleasanton, like our nation, has hard work to do to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard within our community. I look forward to being part of the conversations.”
The second and third steps of the plan include a process to review existing police department policies, with sessions planned for Aug. 20 and Sept. 17, and the consideration of near and long-term policy goals for community policing, scheduled to be held in late 2020 and the early part of 2021. Topics for the meetings include the six pillars of 21st century community policing, as well as crime reduction, officer safety, training and the building of trust within the community. Fiahlo added that the items were designed as beginning talking points and could be amended and expanded as the council sees fit.
According to Police Chief David Swing, regular reviews of policies take place throughout the year; it is an ongoing process. Swing came to the department two months ago from Morgan Hill.
Fiahlo added that the police department enjoys a 95% approval rating from the public according to a recent survey, but at least one resident suggested a closer look.
“If you really want to review policing policies,” Nancy Magee said. “I suggest a targeted survey of citizens who have actually had direct dealing with police here. From the least little traffic ticket to the most violent crime, see what they have to say. And that way, I think you will have a better view of what’s working and what’s not working. I believe that policing is very important, but I do believe changes can be made.”
Councilmember Karla Brown agreed.
“Police policies are experiencing a historic evolution and there is a transition to meet the needs of the public and our officers,” Brown said. “I think both have to be present and have a chance to review and make recommendations to our final solutions ... clearly the most vulnerable within our community have not been served as well. We need to look at how we can better serve them.” For additional information visit, www.cityofpleasantonca.gov.