The last of five Law Enforcement Ad Hoc Committee meetings was held Sept. 12 during which the final draft document was reviewed with additions and recommendations highlighted. The next step is to bring the document to the city council during the Sept. 16 meeting. The Ad Hoc Committee was headed by Pro Tem Mayor Paloma Aguirre and Councilmember Ed Spriggs.
City Manager Andy Hall reviewed what was discussed over the past meetings regarding the Sheriff’s department budget and expenses, which is the largest amount the city of the city’s budget; CAHOOTS, a community policing program as a possible model for answering non- emergency calls based in Eugene, Oregon; and the use of force in Imperial Beach.
The committee had requested data from the Sheriff’s Department specific to Imperial Beach, which had proved difficult because the Sheriff’s Department compiles data for all the cities under its jurisdiction as a whole. At this last meeting, the Sheriff’s Department provided data from 2012. In Imperial Beach per 10,000 people, there were a total of 518 arrests, arrests of Blacks was 833, White 645 and other 128. Overall number of arrests of Black residents reported to the FBI in 2012 were higher for each city in the county except Solana Beach.
Some of the additions in the specific findings included that pointing (both taser and firearm) detaining (handcuffing) and curbing “need to be supported to close the gap on the definitional differences between residents and the Sheriff’s Department in relation to use of force to ensure the dignity of the detainees is preserved.” Another addition is that countywide, “people of color particularly Black in Imperial Beach and elsewhere, are more likely to receive harsher treatment when encountering law enforcement.”
The Alternative Policing Model includes community education regarding when to use 911 versus a non-emergency dispatch, training of dispatchers, and providing the right personnel based on each call.
Some of the recommendations are: Training and active simulation for deputies in Imperial Beach; staff should meet with the Sheriff’s Department on a quarterly basis to discuss San Diego county programs that can be implemented in Imperial Beach; looking at most effective personnel structure and estimated growth in revenue of the city; consideration of a non-sworn community service officer. The sixth recommendation calls for the County Board of Supervisors to “allocate resources to municipalities for county driven programs that will offset the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s response to non-emergency calls, and for additional training i.e. work with San Diego County Office of Race and Equity.”
Aguirre commented at the end of the meeting that she was pleased with the community input which has shown a variety of perspectives about what is happening at the national level and what solutions would be a good fit for Imperial Beach. “Going through this process makes us understand where everybody stands because we all want to live in a community that is safe and continues to thrive…the Sheriff’s cost is unsustainable and it continues to increase, the recreation program is a fraction of that cost…” she said.
Aguirre pointed out that the document is just the beginning of the process and how important it is to find common grounds.
Dr. Keisha Clark, one of the two consultants said that deputy training is important and the events going on nationwide are the symptoms of the actual disease and the goal is to get to the root of the problem.
“It’s about relationships…it’s important we have these conversations. We can’t leave law enforcement out of the conversation,” she said.
Clark also believes that informal discussions with the deputies are important, to talk to them like a neighbor. “It’s not us versus them…when they take their uniforms off they want the same things we do,” she said.
The virtual meeting can be viewed by logging on imperialbeachca.gov under quick links.