Policing committee meets today

Community can participate online and by phone

The second meeting of the city of Chico’s recently formed Policing Ad Hoc Committee will be held today (Aug. 13) from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The public can view and participate via phone call-in or the city’s WebEx platform (which is linked to in the online agenda packet).

The committee, which was formed by Mayor Ann Schwab to review Chico Police Department policies, has been controversial since it was established at the June 23 Chico City Council meeting. In online public comments from that meeting, pro-police public safety advocates called it pandering on the mayor’s part in answer to local and nationwide protests over policing in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Activists and citizens calling for deeper investigation of CPD’s policies, training and culture have criticized the 9-member panel’s police and police-friendly composition. Vice Mayor Alex Brown—who is on the committee—expressed dismay of over the fact the meeting would be less accessible to the public in committee form, and that it would be centered on police speaking to the public rather than receiving feedback from the community.

According to today’s agenda, “Members of the Police Department will lead a presentation on police officer training, including hiring and background process, training requirements, training in relation to use of force, implicit bias, and Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), and de-escalation.”

The first committee meeting, on July 23, featured presentations by CPD and the city attorney on the department’s Use of Force Policy. That meeting was held online with little publicity by the city, and footage of the committee meeting will not be shared on the city’s website, according to city staff (the CN&R checked out a DVD copy available through the City Clerk’s office).

In addition to Brown, the committee is made up of Mayor Schwab, Council Member Kasey Reynolds, Interim Chico Police Chief Matt Madden, Chico Police Officers’ Association President Jim Parrott, CPD Sgt. Omar Peña, and community members Margaret Swick, Cory Hunt and Rob Berry. Swick and Hunt are police-reform activists, while Berry is founder of public safety group Chico First and an outspoken supporter of the CPD.

The meetings will be held every two weeks through October, when the committee will present information gathered to City Council. When asked about criticisms and the fact that meetings are largely centered around police presentations rather than community dialogue, Brown said she hopes community members will participate and voice their concerns, and that the committee will continue to explore policing issues beyond the six initially scheduled meetings.

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