Thank you so much to Sarah Rabanales, our Sac State intern, for this detailed write-up! Read more about Sarah by clicking here.
On June 14th the Sac City Council gathered for a special meeting in order to hear the Sacramento Police Department’s presentation on their violence prevention efforts.
This presentation was led by the Chief of Police, Kathy Lester (pictured below) and was meant to lay out Sac PD’s strategy for handling crime and violence.
This presentation addressed three factors: crime identification, Sac PD strategy and community efforts and partnership.
Lester started out by identifying rising crime in Sacramento which is following the rising crime rates nationally, and specifically identified three locations in Sacramento that have the highest amounts of crime: Del Paso Heights, Oak Park, and Meadowview.
*take these statements about "rising crime rates" with a grain of salt - in general, crime statistics should NOT be taken at face value - and no specific numbers were even provided in the documentation from the Sac PD for this meeting
By understanding and identifying specific locations of high crime rates, Sacramento PD is better able to intervene and deter violence from occurring...according to Chief Lester.
This strategy is known as the Focused Deterrence Model and was created and adopted by Sac PD with the guidance of Violent Crime Reduction Operations Guide (VCPI website linked here) which is a theoretical framework for agencies to address violent crime. This framework claims to value interference and deterrence on behalf of law enforcement, and also claims to value community connection and assistance.
Because of this, Sac PD has teamed up with multiple Sacramento based CBOs in order to "address" rising crime rates (hypothetically speaking). Some of these CBOs include Impact Sac, Voice of the Youth, Neighborhood Wellness Foundation, Rose Family, and many more.
These organizations will provide some of the following services under Sac PD: short notice response to public gathering places to prevent and intervene in problematic behaviors, emergency response after critical incident (CALM team), and focused individual intervention.
In short, Sacramento PD has built their strategy around the idea of interruption and intervention in specific locations with high crime rates, with the help of community based organizations.
Although IN THEORY, this strategy addresses the issue of rising crime rates and violence in Sacramento as a joint task force, it also misses the mark on MANY other factors. One of the issues with this plan is the attempted so-called "strategy" to identify communities with high crime rates and even more specifically, individuals committing these crimes. The reality is that these targeted communities are incredibly vulnerable to assault from, and especially distrustful of, Sac PD. The negative connotation that comes along with the presence of law enforcement in these areas will not disappear simply because the police are "collaborating' with community orgs.
Sac PD specifically targeting these areas with high crime rates will only create more distrust for the system that exists supposedly to protect people (the police) and it may even create more police-led violence.
This isn’t the only concern many (including myself) have with this strategy proposal.
At the end of Chief Lester’s presentation, the Council took quite a few public comments.
Many comments reiterated concerns like the ones I have mentioned, but many also expressed concern over Sac PD essentially taking over these CBOs and the work they do for their communities.
Many mentioned that the efforts made by these organizations to interrupt and intervene in community violence is ONLY accomplished because of their INDEPENDENCE from law enforcement and the fact that many of the people within the orgs are actually from the same community.
By placing these organizations under the influence of law enforcement, we run the risk of losing community trust in these orgs. Without trust in local CBOs many more folx will be vulnerable to the impacts of community violence.
These are fundamental issues that the community has with this plan from the Sac PD. Sac PD along with the Sac City Council should prioritize the demands of the community if they truly want to work to build any amount of trust.
This item was not one that required a vote, it was an informational report from Sac PD. It is important that we, as a community, continue to make public comment and voice our concerns about what Sac PD has planned for rising crime rates, and how they use their funding. It is imperative that we focus on what is best for the community, and not what is in the best interest of the reputation of Sac PD or the Council.