First Meeting - May 19, 2017
Community members came together in response to the police shooting death of Desmond Phillips. We shared the view that this was a tragic, unnecessary death and that our community must establish some form of citizen oversight of law enforcement to avoid future preventable deaths at the hands of law enforcement.
Developed Mission Statement and Communication Guidelines
Mission (updated January 2021):
CC4J works to foster a police culture that values the dignity of all citizens, eliminates the use of excessive force and preserves human life. We are a non-partisan citizens group.
We are committed to nonviolent approaches to our communication and believe that is essential to our goal of building a more peaceful community. We believe that individual expression without judgment and active listening are crucial in our approach to our work.
Much of first year spent doing wide-ranging research, focused on: Chico’s Police Community Advisory Board; local mental health issues as they relate to law enforcement; crisis intervention, de-escalation and implicit bias training models; militarization of police; community policing strategies; and forms of citizen oversight. We studied the recommendations of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) and 21st Century Policing and agreed that these would be models for our work. Through this process our priorities emerged for changes in law enforcement practices, captured in our Focus Points.
Focus Points - Completed March 2018
The CC4J Focus Points summarize a vision for our community with six priorities for changes to be made in law enforcement practices. The Focus Points were presented to Chico City Council at the City Council meeting on March 20. Below are the headings of the Focus Points:
De-escalation must become normal practice
Training in behavioral health crisis intervention and avoidance of implicit bias is essential
Expanding community-oriented policing
Demilitarizing of local police
Support and care for officers
Citizen oversight of law enforcement
Community Conversation - June 18, 2018
The public was invited to participate in a conversation about law enforcement with a focus on enhancing community/police relationships. The event was held at the Butte County Public Library, Chico Branch. It was well attended with standing room only and was aired on BCAC TV – Butte County Public Access TV (see BCAC TV video). Our numbers expanded as several community members joined CC4J following the Community Conversation.
Candidates Forum on Law Enforcement - September 24, 2018
We invited candidates for Chico City Council to respond to questions on their positions regarding aspects of law enforcement. Candidates Alex Brown, Scott Huber, Rich Ober and Ken Rensink participated. CC4J presented a series of questions related to law enforcement which provided the public an opportunity to learn the candidates’ positions on these issues. The forum was well attended, again with standing room only. The forum was covered by local media.
Panelists at League of Women Voters Forum on Law Enforcement - March 2019
Two CC4J members participated as panelists in the League of Women Voters Forum on transparency in law enforcement: Law Enforcement Records: Public or Private? The LWV Forum was held in March 2019.
NACOLE Annual Conference - April 2019
Six CC4J members attended the annual conference held by NACOLE in April 2019. They returned with valuable insights, enthusiasm, and contacts to support our work.
Observation of Davis Police Accountability Commission (PAC) - November 2019
Two members drove to Davis to observe a meeting of the Davis PAC and had a chance to talk with several of the commissioners afterwards. They had only been established for a few months, yet there was a sense of optimism that their structure was running smoothly. The Davis PAC contracts with an Independent Police Auditor, who attends their monthly meetings.
Meetings with Public Officials
During CC4J’s first two years CC4J members met with Chico Chief of Police, the Butte County Sheriff, former President of NAMI Cathy Guerney, and with the City Asst Manager. We also met with several city council members, several members of the Police Community Advisory Board, and with two sworn Chico PD officers representing the Police Union. These meetings were held to establish communication, to share our vision, and to build relationships with key players regarding local law enforcement.
Summary - First Two Years
Thanks to this broad range of interactions, comprehensive research, and talking with members of the public, we increased our understanding of law enforcement issues, particularly around use of force, transparency, de-escalation training and ways to provide support and care for officers. We learned about various approaches to addressing these issues, gained a clearer understanding of what is happening in our own community, and felt we were ready to move toward next steps: building a Coalition of public support for CC4J goals.
Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien Gives Notice of Retirement in April - January 2020
CC4J decides to attempt to influence hiring of the new chief to be someone who has shown their capacity to align with the CC4J Focus Points. We requested and were invited to give our input to the recruiter and one of our members served on the hiring panel.
Expanding CC4J - Building the Coalition - March 2020
In late March, just after the Covid 19 shutdown, we invited community members to join us in a teleconference, with the intention to spread the word about CC4J and bring in new members. Many who were on the call now work with us, and the expanded work force allowed us to move more efficiently toward achieving our objectives. We established subcommittees to focus our work: Outreach, Research, Story Project, and Technology, guided by the Steering Committee.
Police Killing of George Floyd - May 25, 2020, and Aftermath
Along with the rest of the world, CC4J members were horrified by the brutal murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. We joined the global uprising demanding an end to rampant killing of black men by police and the underlying systemic racism and militarism that perpetuate it. CC4J participated in local rallies demanding deep change from law enforcement.
CC4J advocated for two Chico City Council proposals for police reform, from Mayor Ann Schwab and from Vice Mayor Alex Brown. Mayor Schwab proposed a Police Review Ad Hoc Committee to examine Chico PD’s use of force policy. One of CC4J’s members served on that committee. The Committee held bi-weekly meetings from August 27 to October 22. Those looking for police reform were disappointed that the structure of the committee was instead used as a platform for Chico PD to glorify their present policies and practices, allowing no time for critical examination. According to the CC4J member who served on the Committee, they did not examine the use of force policy, and there was no reform.
Ironically, another police shooting death of a young man in mental health crisis occurred before the final meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee (see below for more).
CC4J Action Plan – Completed September 2020
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, CC4J was moved to develop a comprehensive set of actions that we see as necessary to achieve a community that is safe for all residents. The completed plan, entitled Action Plan for the Transformation of Policing in Chico was released to City Officials, Chico Police Department, and the public at a Press Conference on September 24. (View KRCR News coverage.) The Action Plan is composed of eight distinct categories, each with several steps for action:
1. Mandate Training in De-escalation, Avoidance of Implicit Bias and Crisis
2. Maintain Full Transparency and Accountability
3. Establish a Mental Health Intervention Team
4. Overhaul the Use-of-Force Policy and Practices
5. Create Citizen Oversight
6. De-militarize Local Police and Expand Community Policing
7. Strengthen Mental Health Support for Officers
8. Revise Hiring and Termination Policies
Stephen Vest shot and Killed by Chico Police - October 14, 2020
Stephen Vest, a 31-year-old young man was shot and killed by Chico Police in the Petco parking lot on Martin Luther King Blvd. while in the midst of what appeared to be a mental health breakdown. Members of CC4J were deeply saddened that Chico had again lost a community member who needed help, not an end to his life.
As expected, after reviewing the report submitted by the Butte County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team, Butte County DA Mike Ramsey found the killing of Stephen Vest to be justifiable, consistent with all 37 officer-involved shooting deaths that have occurred during Ramsey’s tenure. Such investigations are characterized as “independent,” yet CC4J takes the position that it is not possible for local law enforcement personnel to investigate their own peers. CC4J called on city officials, Chief Madden, and DA Ramsey to ask for an impartial investigation by the California Attorney General's office. Subsequently, aware of responses to previous requests by the families of Desmond Phillips and Tyler Rushing, CC4J concluded that the current CA Attorney General is also partial to law enforcement. Instead of filing a formal complaint to the CA Attorney General, CC4J submitted a letter to CA Governor Gavin Newsom, urging him to appoint an Attorney General for California who can be truly impartial in investigations of law enforcement use of force incidents.
Next Steps for CC4J
Continue to urge the appointment of a CA Attorney General who will be impartial in investigations of the actions of law enforcement, particularly in police use of force incidents, and specifically in lethal incidents
Establish working relationships with the Chico City Council, with Chico Police Chief Matt Madden, and with the Chico Police Officers’ Association (Chico Police Union)
Promote CC4J Action Plan to the public, to Chico Council, and to City Officials, including Chief Madden and the Police Officers Association
Expand the CC4J Coalition for Police Reform
Continue to work toward the ultimate goals of Citizen Oversight of Law Enforcement and a transformation of police culture to one that treats all humans with dignity and respect, as guardians, not warriors.