CC4J Focus Points
These changes will create a culture within the police department that
values the dignity of all citizens and works to preserve human life.
A Vision for Our Community
Improving the Climate of Respect between Law Enforcement and the Community
Concerned Citizens for Justice formed in the spring of 2017 out of a shared concern over officer-involved shooting deaths in our community. With yet another shooting death at the hands of police in the fall of 2020, it is urgent for the safety of our community that law enforcement make significant changes in their use of force practices. We seek a collaborative relationship with the Chico Police Department, to work together to make enlightened changes in police policy and practice, leading ultimately to a transformation of culture. These Focus Points state our priorities.
DE-ESCALATION MUST BECOME NORMAL PRACTICE
The goal of policing in response to crisis situations should be de-escalation. This means officers take time to evaluate and respond appropriately to an individual’s erratic actions, whether due to health challenges, trauma or any other reason. We expect law enforcement to make every effort to prevent injury, even in challenging situations. Giving our police the tools to do this requires ongoing education and training.
TRAINING IN BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CRISIS INTERVENTION & AVOIDANCE OF IMPLICIT BIAS IS ESSENTIAL
Comprehensive training in behavioral health crisis de-escalation will allow police officers and other first responders, including 911 dispatchers, to respond appropriately to individuals in crisis. Such training should foster a culture of collaboration between the police, mental health professionals, social services and/or family members, with the goal of a more peaceful resolution of each crisis.
It is essential that 911 dispatchers send the appropriate resources to every call. Because bias against certain groups is inherent in our culture and influences even people who are not aware of it, all first responders and law enforcement staff must receive comprehensive diversity/implicit bias training. Local police must ensure that incidents of disparate treatment are addressed so that all community members are treated with the same level of dignity and respect.
EXPANDING COMMUNITY-ORIENTED POLICING
Community-oriented policing is a proactive approach to public safety in which police work closely with all sectors of our community. Collaboration is the foundation of community policing. Mutual non-combative communication between local police and all people living in our community will create relationships based on respect, in which police and citizens identify and solve community problems as partners.
DEMILITARIZING OF LOCAL POLICE
Police work depends on trust and respect. When police officers are armed like combat troops they diminish relationships and intimidate citizens. Law enforcement may underestimate the impact of militarized images of themselves. Before the police accept military equipment, from any agency, they must first receive authorization from local elected officials, e.g., City Council, Board of Supervisors. The matter must also be open to the public for comment. A less threatening image will help foster positive interactions between law enforcement and the community and will result in increased public trust and public safety. First and foremost we would like our police officers to serve as guardians rather than warriors.
SUPPORT AND CARE FOR OFFICERS
Our police are essential. We know that police work can be both dangerous and stressful and that first responders have higher levels of post-traumatic stress than the general public.
Therefore, full mental health support must be available for officers and first responders whenever needed, and encouraged following any severe crisis situation. Counseling must be mandatory following discharge of a weapon or any use-of-force incident to ensure the mental health of the officer and the safety of the public. Law enforcement personnel involved in use- of-force incidents must live with the consequences of their actions; thus addressing such situations with adequate therapeutic intervention is imperative.
CITIZEN OVERSIGHT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
Improvement of our police department requires citizen oversight. An independent, impartial citizen board with the authority to review all police files is essential. As in other cities, this board will review incidents of police use of force. They will hear citizen complaints, recommend disciplinary action when necessary and assess and recommend improvements to police policy. The board will operate transparently and issue its findings publicly. Its members will reflect the diversity of our community. Members of the Board may be appointed by elected officials or elected directly by the voters.
CLICK HERE to download a printable Focus Points document.