I want to start by saying that it has been a busy, trying, and emotional week for all of Santa Rosa. As we head into this weekend, I want to provide you with an update on some of the actions I have taken as your Chief of Police in an effort to move forward with collaborating and engaging with the community.
When I first began my tenure as Santa Rosa’s Chief of Police, one of my first goals was to increase the police department’s involvement and engagement with the community. In late 2019, we held a series of community listening sessions throughout the city to gather community feedback on public safety issues in Santa Rosa. A summary of those listening sessions can be found on the Community Listening Sessions website. The action items that came out of the listening sessions – as well your input through peaceful demonstration, written words and candid direct conversations this last week – are top of my mind as I navigate my Police Department in how we move forward.
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many community members this week, including those participating in protests that occurred over the last several days. In addition, I joined Mayor Schwedhelm for a meeting with youth leaders from Community Action Partnership’s Youth Civic Engagement Project earlier this week and listened to how these youth are feeling about the tragic death of George Floyd and their struggle with the appropriate response to effect change. This discussion also centered around strategies on community-wide safety, social injustice, and how young people can partner with the City of Santa Rosa to collectively move forward as a community. Continuing to include our youth in the dialog is extremely important to me.
I’ve had several questions about where one can go to review our Department’s current practices and policies and so I want to make sure you know where you can find that information – it resides within our Department’s Transparency Information webpage, and includes responsive records, training materials, and policies and procedures. Additionally, I’ve heard from many in the last few days calling for more engagement from the Police Department and the City, as well as for reforms of our department policies, particularly around the use of force. Many of these emails point to the 8 Can’t Wait Project, which outlines eight policies for police departments to implement. Last night the Mayor mentioned in his message to the community that him and I have been discussing these policies and I want you to know that I am looking at this closely. I also support the Mayor’s recent signing of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance’s Mayor’s Pledge and I am currently working with staff from our City’s Office of Community Engagement to develop next steps for implementing the items outlined in the pledge, including various ways we can partner with the community on developing policy recommendations.
While I have not been able to personally respond to each and every person that has reached out, I want each of you to know that I am listening and your concerns and input matter. You as a member of our community matter. I am committed to participating in meaningful, inclusive, and ongoing conversations with our community, especially with members of our community who have been historically impacted by racial and social injustices and who have historically not been given a seat at the table, so that our police department can do better in protecting and serving all members of the Santa Rosa community.