For over two decades, I had the honor of working as a police officer for the Cities of Richmond and Modesto, California. I worked in high crime neighborhoods with diverse populations and received commendations for excellence in both cities. As a firm believer in Community Policing, I got to know the citizens in the communities and established a reputation of being fair and treating everyone equally.
As Mayor, I have used my experience as a police officer and member of the President’s Law Enforcement Commission Sub-Committee to help Chief Amirfar and our officers keep our residents safe. The Turlock Police Department (TPD), uses the Community Policing Approach and body cameras to record interactions with Turlock citizens. (Our body cameras should be in use by mid July this year.) This means our officers take the time to get to know the citizens they serve and there is a video of each contact. Chief Amirfar is always available to our community through events like Coffee with the Chief, Police Activities League, or raising money for police widows, orphans, and needy students to attend college through the annual Turlock Policeman’s Ball.
Transparency in law enforcement is a foundational tool for developing and earning the trust of the community. In 2008, my first year as a council member, I worked closely with former Chief Hampton to ensure transparency was embedded in the department. An example of that effort is the Police Department’s Annual Report which continues today. The report provides public access to statistics such: as use of force by police officers, number of contacts with the public, total arrests, etc.
TPD 2018 statistics reflect low numbers of incidents where force was necessary, with force being used in only 29 arrests, less than 1% of the 3774 arrests out of 105,908 total contacts with our community. Force was most often used when only one officer was on scene and during suspicious incidents. To reduce these numbers, we continue reviewing our arrest process and adopt more effective training policies. It is forecasting, forward thinking, and insight like this that makes me proud of the work TPD does each and every day. There is always room for improvement in anything we do but I am proud that TPD is much further ahead on issues like minimizing use of force than most police departments throughout the country.
Recent national discussions concerning current police practices are recommending TPD implement polices such as: banning choke holds, using de-escalation to prevent the use of deadly force, reporting numbers of police interactions with citizens, including use of force statistics, and, prohibiting shooting at motor vehicles.
With the exception of prohibiting shooting at motor vehicles, TPD already uses the practices they demand to fight crime. It is not practical to ban shooting at motor vehicles because homegrown internal terrorists use them to inflict mass casualty events and deaths. TPD allows officers to shoot if they believe NO other reasonable alternatives are available to avert the threat.
To provide greater accountability to our citizens, Chief Amirfar, Turlock Police Association Police President Tim Redd, and I are working on establishing a Community Advisory Board to the Chief of Police, (CAB). The CAB will consist of nine to eleven community members who will review police practices, officer contact statistics, and then provide input to our Chief on police matters involving our community. Citizens will apply for the CAB and be appointed by the Chief of Police.
The senseless murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer has caused municipalities to reassess their own police department’s effectiveness in protecting their communities without the use of force. TPD is a model Police Department that maintains law and order with a minimum number of use of force incidents. I am proud to work with Chief Amirfar and fully support his Community Policing Approach to law enforcement, his commitment to transparency and his dedication to keeping our residents safe.