The Livermore City Council on Monday voted to form a new subcommittee tasked with laying the groundwork for a deep review of city policies and practices.
The move follows a pledge by Livermore’s elected leaders earlier this month to examine the Livermore Police Department’s use of force policies and to engage the community in a hard look at the city’s own role in the broader area of racial injustice.
“We need to make sure we can keep people engaged in this as we move ahead so that we can hear the stories and then we can have that dialogue with the community,” said Mayor John Marchand.
Marchand appointed Vice Mayor Bob Woerner and Councilmember Trish Munro to serve on the panel. It is scheduled to report back to the full council on July 13 with a set of options moving forward that the council can accept or send back to the committee for more work.
Marchand said the committee should allow the council to move more quickly.
The mayor also appointed Woerner to serve as the city’s representative on a new countywide racial justice working group started by Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.
During the meeting, both Woerner and Munro spoke to the likely need for the city to hire a consultant to help guide it through a broad public outreach campaign.
Public comments submitted to the council as part of the discussion varied widely. Some called for citizen oversight of police and changes in disciplinary procedures, increased spending on mental health and preventative services, as well as low income housing and education. Others urged the council to safeguard the current level of police funding.
The bulk of letters including one from a “rehabilitated Livermore criminal” spoke of general support for the police department and its employees.
“They are people just like us. They are doing a job they were hired to do and we expect them to do it well,” said Councilman Bob Coomber, a former Oakland police officer. “And as we have found out in the past, when they don’t, they’re gone.”
Munro recalled her own positive experiences with the Livermore Police Department, and said she was impressed with their dedication, particularly with the homeless population. “But that doesn’t mean I can say that is true for all of Livermore,” she said.
One of the more detailed letters the council received about the police department challenged the council to go beyond a “high level pledge” and to scrutinize police employment contracts ahead of labor negotiations set to begin next year.
Munro noted that all of the councilmembers are white, relatively well off and older, and their personal experiences are not necessarily representative of the rest of the community.
“We really do need to make sure we are reaching out to all of Livermore to understand their experiences,” Munro said.