By Zach Friend, Supervisor, Second District
Editor’s Note: Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said, “Good policy leads to good law enforcement. In Santa Cruz County, the four cities and the county all have policies of shooting from a moving vehicle and strangulation and require officers to resort to de-escalation and intervene if they see excessive use of fire. strength.
The Santa Cruz County Criminal Justice Council recently released its first report – an analysis of the policies and procedures of local police departments – particularly with respect to the use of force.
This transparent regional analysis is considered the first comparative regional review of these policies in the country.
Here is an overview:
What is the Criminal Justice Council?
CJC was established over 30 years ago with the goal of providing increased coordination and cooperation among criminal justice partners – government, nonprofits, education and others – to reduce the involvement of young people in gangs.
CJC focuses discussions on prevention and intervention as well as reintegration programs, rather than just a model of suppression.
For example, CJC hosted a conference on the role of women and girls in gangs, which gave community and criminal justice service providers the opportunity to hear from experts on the role of women and girls in gangs. gangs as well as a panel of young women with lived experience in gangs.
CJC has also worked with school districts, nonprofits and others on intervention and prevention programs to reduce youth involvement in gangs. From supporting educational efforts, nonprofit sports leagues, conferences that provide the perspectives of those with lived experience and more. CJC organizes these events with volunteers and small contributions from member organizations.
Who is part of the CJC?
Local police chiefs, county sheriff, chief probation officer, district attorney, management of two local nonprofits, two local judges, public defender, county school superintendent, the president of Cabrillo College, two county supervisors, elected officials from local towns and more participate.
This is a diverse group that, with the participation of local nonprofit social and education providers, helps create discussions beyond downstream suppression activity to prevention opportunities. upstream. I am the president of CJC and other members of the executive council include the county school superintendent, district attorney, court leaders, a member of the Scotts Valley city council and the Watsonville police chief.
What has CJC focused on this year?
This year, the CJC decided to focus its efforts on law enforcement policies and procedures, particularly on the use of force, privacy (technology), information dissemination, surveillance independent and a small overview of behavioral health intervention (next year the focus will be on focusing exclusively on behavioral health and the criminal justice system). The point is to see where there is alignment, where there are gaps and where there are opportunities for improvement.
While not a comprehensive review of local agency policies, it was an in-depth review of specific items – and provides a transparent overview of policies that ensure officers respond in a safe manner. and responsible in key situations.
As we noted in the report, while the goal was to assess policy alignment, the goal is not necessarily to have a standardized set of policies in all jurisdictions. Local agencies and the communities they serve may have reasons why they have specific policies, do not have specific policies, or have policies that differ from other county agencies.
This analysis should provide a transparent overview of these policies and provide a starting point for assessment by local law enforcement agencies, elected leaders and the communities they serve.
The CCM created an ad hoc committee to work on the analysis and partnered with Applied Survey Research to produce the report. All local law enforcement agencies – Capitola, Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and the Sheriff’s Office – participated voluntarily, openly and transparently to provide policies and answer any questions.
What were the main conclusions?
The first is that there is widespread policy alignment among law enforcement jurisdictions in Santa Cruz County.
For example, on almost all policy issues regarding the use of force, technology deployment, and public information disclosure, local law enforcement agencies had up-to-date and modern policies. Some agencies are looking to update or add policies as a result of this review and all plan to work with their respective elected city councils or the oversight board to review the findings and see if any adjustments are needed.
While not all jurisdictions have a dedicated unit with sworn officers responding to behavioral / mental health calls, all agencies support the creation of an independent agency that would help respond to those calls.
Another key finding: all local agencies require de-escalation, prohibit strangulations, neck braces and the like, require less lethal force before lethal force when it is reasonable to do so, have policies that require dissemination of body worn sequences and more.
How can you find out more?
The CCM meets quarterly and these meetings are open to the public. Over the past year (and for the foreseeable future) these meetings have been virtual. The information (including the 2021 report and the policies that inspired the report) can be found at santacruzcjc.org. Over the past few years I have served as chairman and would be happy to provide you with additional information if you have any questions.
If you have any questions about CJC, or any other topic in our district, please don’t hesitate to call me at 454-2200. I keep regular updates on social media as well as www.facebook.com/supervisorfriend.
To view the 5-page report, visit https://tinyurl.com/CJC-2021-Final
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