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‘Chaos In Our City’

Inconsistent policies leave cops guessing

Guest Opinion
By Tim Davis
June 2022

In 2015, the Sacramento City Council created the Sacramento Community Police Commission to make recommendations on policing.

The original commission consisted of 11 members. Community groups and advocates held the majority of seats, along with a retired police captain. I was there to represent the interests of police officers and other SPD employees.

While most commission members lacked law enforcement backgrounds, the presence of two trained and experienced police professionals gave the commission credibility. We helped the group root its recommendations in reality.

Some activists took issue with including police officers on a police commission. They actively pushed to remove anyone with a law enforcement background. In 2016, this pressure led the City Council to abandon its balanced approach.

The council installed a replacement commission that banned anyone with a law enforcement background. Since then, activists have driven the new commission. The group has pressed for change without the same thoughtful consideration and balancing that SPD historically followed.

Unfortunately, the City Council implemented some of these recommendations, despite the lack of thoughtfulness and balance.

Coincidentally and independent of the commission, SPD was hard at work on changes and improvements. The department invited an extensive, independent policy review by then-State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who produced two reports.

After Becerra’s review, SPD worked 18 months to write a comprehensive use-of-force policy. The department sought my input, along with input from other stakeholders. SPD leadership created a policy consistent with state and federal law that addressed the recommendations in Becerra’s review and properly balanced interests.

Employee training came next. This thorough and balanced process was a model for thoughtful change.

Unfortunately, the thoughtful process did not last.

Faced with frequent and sometimes conflicting mandates from the City Council and state officials, SPD has constantly revised and reconciled its use-of-force policy. In 2021, the department was required to rewrite the policy four times to account for mandates imposed by city or state governments.

This whirlwind of change and uncertainty left little time for SPD to provide training. Officers had no time to adjust. The policy became one of constant confusion.

Today we see chaos in our city. Violent crime and disorder have taken hold in our neighborhoods. The police department’s responsibility to meet community expectations by ensuring a safe and orderly society has been hampered by the city losing focus of its priorities.

The policy changes have not been thoughtfully considered. Change must be balanced. It must allow for SPD to achieve its primary mission of protecting life and property.

Instead of listening to a commission that lacks police perspective, the City Council should seek out people with an understanding of what really creates a safe city.

Instead of being sidetracked by rhetoric, the council should focus on restoring police resources lost during the recession, and allow those resources to keep pace with population growth.

The City Council should establish a balanced and credible police commission that includes input from officers and civilians with law enforcement backgrounds. The new commission should focus on finding ways for SPD to achieve its mission of a safe community.

The commission’s focus should be on ways to end our violent crime epidemic, which includes an excessive homicide rate and pervasive firearms violations.

Finally, the City Council should trust its chief of police to set policy that best meets the needs of our community.

Timothy Davis joined the Sacramento Police Department in 1998 and has been president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association since 2015. He can be reached at (916) 446-7661.

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