A Point in Time

The annual Point in Time (PIT) count is out.  In Eureka, there was a 60% drop in those reporting unsheltered homelessness to the surveyors. (206 in 2017 vs. 513 in 2015) The methods used to conduct the survey are virtually the same every year: the results are as accurate as possible.  Let’s remember the state of affairs last year: as many as 240 people living in the PALCO marsh area, hundreds of shopping carts strewn about, and panhandlers throughout Eureka.   We may all be very proud of what has been accomplished so far!

There has been some displacement from PALCO marsh to other parts of the City.  The City is working with the homeless as well as community members to study this issue: we are not seeing wholesale, but rather fractured, displacement; although not nearly the amount we expected.  The area at 3rd and Commercial is particularly problematic right now, but not all of the people on 3rd are from PALCO marsh. Many are new faces to our town, sent here by other communities or having wandered here to trim.

Over the past year more than 300 people have been housed; some for short periods, others for much longer.  Many have found permanent housing and jobs as they regained their health.  The collaboration between the City,  the Department of Health and Human Services  (DHHS), and the private sector has been a powerful force for good; in particular Betty’s Blue Angel Village, a well-managed center of compassion that demonstrates what the private sector, the non-profit community, and government can do when their forces are joined to support those in need.  Betty and HumCPR deserve a great deal of credit.

But there is still much to do. The solution will need all of us.  There are still at least 200 homeless individuals in Eureka, according to the PIT: 206 people with no shelter, no privacy, and no security of their personal property.  As a compassionate community and with the help, input and involvement of the homeless themselves, we can, and must, remedy this situation.  There are some who call for rigorous enforcement: “Put them in jail.”  But there is no room.  Even if there were, is this the right solution for the homeless? For you?  Our enforcement and sentencing should be consistent throughout all strata of society.  If it is illegal for one person to sit on a sidewalk, panhandle, or store personal property in public space, then it must be illegal for all.  And let’s be clear: it is not illegal to be poor or appear unkempt.  Their appearance may offend your senses, but they have every bit as much right to this beautiful place as you and I.  Each of us, EPD included, must vigorously and compassionately defend their human rights as we encourage them to help the community improve their situation.  Attached is a two part strategy the City is vetting to reduce behavioral problems associated with individuals at 3rd and Commercial.  I welcome your feedback at amills@ci.eureka.ca.gov .

Part  one of the strategy: a homeless day use area.  The City is seeking proposals from individuals who need funding to help the homeless.  There are 40-60 individuals who need a place to idle for the day with their belongings and possibly animals. It must be easily accessible to the city by foot or bus, but does not have to be in the city.  Please check the transparency portal for ideas of what is needed to present as a proposal. You can submit your proposal, including budget, to the Chief of Police.  A group of City staff and community members will evaluate the proposals.

Part two of the strategy: to deter crime and violent behavior through leveraged deterrence.  With the cooperation of local businesses, the Saint Vincent De Paul Center (SVDP), and the individuals who frequent the area, we can use the services rendered to encourage behavioral control.  If an individual is out of control, disturbing and perhaps threatening others, the community must say “That’s enough!”, and ask SVDP to withhold services until they can be restored.  To restore services, the individual may be required to perform a community service: clean up trash, pull weeds, paint out graffiti, etc.  Once completed, they can get a voucher to re-establish services.

Together we can solve this problem and bring order.  Please see the attached documents.

3rd and Commercial.

SVDP.Daycenter

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Grant Opportunity: Juvenile Drug Addiction

EPD will use asset seizure money to fund a local organization to reduce drug addiction among children in Eureka.  If your organization is interested in receiving a grant to help combat drug addiction among kids, please see the attached grant and apply to EPD by the listed date.

Grant (1)

Here is what’s at stake.

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Let’s not let them down…

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Abuse of Homeless in Redding

 

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Our Eureka!

A man with integrity called to warn me about a scam perpetrated on Redding’s homeless population.   Someone else, a person who apparently has very little value for other humans, posted a Craigslist advertisement in Redding stating Eureka is looking to house additional homeless. This is untrue.

Yes, Eureka is a compassionate community who respects human rights. Yes, we make every effort to help those less fortunate. Yes, we practice our Judeo-Christian-Muslim values as a community, as demonstrated in our treatment of others.  We take great pride in our efforts to house the houseless, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked.  A great person who walked the face of the earth said this is who we should be and what we must do. You should know that Eureka has housed scores of people over the past two years.  People are now on the road to recovery and health.  Bully for all of our homeless advocates and police officers who work tirelessly to help others.

The unethical advertiser shows a picture of our Multiple Assistance Center and requests homeless call and lie about their location. How dreadful a person must be to have to stoop to this this level of depravity. They purposefully set vulnerable people up for failure.  They seek to take hope from the hopeless.  This is not their first swipe at this dishonesty.  We have seen this ad before.  They think it’s cute to advertise in cowardly anonymity. Are you truly anonymous in a digital footprint? I also find it hard to believe you have not bragged about it to others.

The City of Eureka, aided by the County of Humboldt, are housing our local residents, those who desire help. We feel bad for those duped into coming to Eureka for housing, our resources are tapped.  Further we professionally and compassionately police our community and have made great strides to reduce the blight associated with homelessness, by limiting panhandling and possession of shopping carts. In addition EPD has made hundreds of arrests for the recalcitrant criminals.  You might want to know that Eureka leads the region in innovation and are rapidly moving forward to a healthy community where business can flourish and community grows. This positive direction values all people while providing a safe environment to live, work, visit or play.  So, when its 110° this summer in Redding, come check out our natural air conditioning, great fishing and outdoor adventures.  Redding is a great community, one you should be proud of.  Eureka is becoming one too. Come for a visit.

By the way, the man of high integrity…Redding Chief of Police, Robert Paoletti.

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When Force is Used at EPD

Use of Force at EPD

As part of our policy to control the use of force, EPD performs an inspection that collects the data surrounding the circumstances, types and levels of force used by its officers. Captain Stephens read every report where force was used and watch the BWC video if clarification was needed. Presented here are the data collected from EPD’s use of force in 2016.

The data from Captain Stephen’s review shows:

  • EPD responds to about 51,000 calls for service each year.
  • Those calls for police service resulted in the custodial arrest of 4,165 individuals. There was an additional 279 mental health detentions.
  • Of the 4,444 times, police took people into custody, force was used in 253 arrests or 6% of all incidents.
  • Of the 253 uses of force by EPD, 60 people claimed injury. (23.7%) Two were hospitalized, one for a few hours of observation from a bean bag round, the other with a gunshot wound. (.8%)
  • Of the 60 reported injuries, 19 complained of pain.
  • 23 officers were injured by assaults from or fights with suspects. (9.1%)
  • The most common type of suspect injuries:
    • Abrasions 24
    • Lacerations 7
    • Arm/writs pain 7
    • Pain from Taser 2
  • The most common type of force used:
    • Pain compliance or control holds 100
    • Pushes/shove 59
    • Firearms displayed 58
    • K-9 deployed (no bites) 50
    • Baton/Nunchaku 30 (29 were holds, not strikes)
    • Hands/Feet strike 23
    • Taser Displayed 20
    • Taser used 9

Analyses EPD used some level of force in ½ half of 1% of all documented police contacts and in 6% of arrests. Of all the uses of force, two people received injuries reportable to the department of justice. EPD is faced with an enormous population of mentally ill and/or people in a state of drug induced psychosis, who behave violently. When the errant conduct goes beyond the capability of family, friends and bystanders, the police are tasked with brining control to an often chaotic situation.  EPD has been skillful in using a low level of force. As a result, only two people received significant injury. The reason may be that EPD has restricted its policy for the use of force beyond what is typical. Policy does matter. We believe this helps establish a standard for the frequency, type and level of force used. To expand our efforts to reduce the use of force, EPD does the following:

  1. EPD is close to full staffing. This allows more flexibility in deployment, training and getting officers at the scene to help one another. Adequate staffing can help reduce the level of force needed.
  2. Patrol division, under Captain Stephens, has moved to a 4/10 and 3/12.5 schedule with the cooperation of the EPOA. This allows officers and supervisors to train together and cover topics such as transitioning to less lethal munitions and the effective use of tools and techniques.
  3. EPD sends officers to Critical Incident Training (CIT), and in June will begin to train all officers and supervisors in state of the art tactical de-escalation techniques. This will be done in conjunction with the HCSO.
  4. EPD has acquired equipment for field operations that can protect officers during critical incidents. EPD is continuously researching, trying and seeking effective de-escalation tools.
  5. Significant uses of force are reviewed by the Chief’s Advisory Committee, an oversite group who looks at policy, training and personnel complaints.  This ensures transparency and independent objectivity.

The use of force is ugly to see and worse to be part of. Suspects get hurt, good cops suffer career ending injuries and undergo a life time of pain. There are no simple and clean ways to take a person into custody who chooses not to comply. Some of our officers are 6’4” and 300 pounds of muscle, and others are 5’2” 110 pounds. Some are Brazilian Jujitsu masters, and others have little experience fighting. None are Chuck Norris, karate-ninja icons as seen in the movies. Regardless of our level of experience, each of us will be confronted with a violent person. The type and level of force used will depend on our knowledge, skills, and physical capabilities. More importantly not having to use force will depend on our ability to communicate effectively. Each EPD officer would much rather talk people into handcuffs, than fight with them. Fighting and getting injured gets old…really fast.

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You Biased? Maybe!

Jeff Thomas, a choir singer, stood on a corner holding a choir robe slung over his shoulder, while waiting for a ride. An EPD officer checking the area for a man who just fled from the Sheriff’s office saw Jeff standing there. The suspect was described as a black man in his 40s. Jeff is a black man in his 60s. The officer spotlighted and approached Jeff to see if he was the wanted suspect.

Jeff said, the officer was polite and respectful even calling him sir. Jeff was upset but civil in his response. Two days later Jeff and I met to discuss the encounter. His question for me, if I was white would this officer have stopped me? He was clear he did not want to see the officer punished, but rather use this incident as an opportunity to talk about race, and to improve the police-community relationship. Jeff’s maturity and grace were remarkable.

The officer genuinely felt Jeff could have been the suspect. Although choir robes and age might have been a good clue that Jeff was not the suspect. In my opinion, we could have used better judgment and more discretion in the contact. We also could have approached Jeff in a non-threatening manner, such as, “Headed to church tonight?” Alternatively, “I am looking for Joe Doe, have you seen him?”

Implicit bias is a conflict that plays out daily across America and Eureka. Here is a hard reality each of us must face; we are bias. Implicitly or overtly, we are biased. Bias hurts those who are the target of this predisposition. Our institutions, laws and policies further that bias, recycling and reinforcing beliefs that hurt those singled out different than the traditional American norm. A norm that has changed. For America to heal as a nation we must change, and systems must change.

This week my wife stood in the merchandise return line at Target. Generally speaking Target has a very liberal return policy. A young and pregnant Latina stood in line in front of Cathy. She held several baby items to return. Baby shower Cathy thought, there must have been double gifts. When the girl got to the front of the line to return her gifts, the store clerk denied her return. The clerk was kind, professional and almost apologetic, but she stood firm on company policy. The girl pled with her, was registered at the store, and willing to take a gift card. The answer was firm. No.

Next came the big question…do you have a driver’s license? I can return these items if you have a license. The pregnant girl slumped in embarrassment. No, I don’t have a license. Well, I need a license to take it back. Cathy interrupted and asked for the girl’s property. Cathy took out her license and asked to return the items. She got the refund and handed it to the girl. I understand Target’s policy, as thieves often do not have a license, but the impact of implicit bias on a culture of immigrants, many who do not drive, is devastating.  No one said or claimed that she was or was not a citizen or legal resident.

California state regulations (POST) demands that police applicants must have a decent credit score to be hired. The reasons are to guard against corruption and ensure the person is responsible and paying their bills. I was asked at a workshop what policies do you have that eliminate people of color from being hired? That rule immediately came to mind. Many people of color live in or grew up in poverty. They have not had the opportunity to establish credit or are too busy surviving to worry about it. Parents living in poverty cannot bail kids out when over extending on their first college credit card.  How do we collectively fix this problem of implicit bias? EPD has adjusted its policy on a case by case basis.

Here is EPD’s plan to move forward and reduce implicit bias.

  1. Become more aware of implicit bias. Each officer will take Harvard implicit bias test.
  2. Bring in those who can instruct us about implicit bias and learn to reduce it.
  3. Eliminate or change policies that are inherently bias.
  4. Continue to work in partnership with communities who experience bias regularly.
  5. Hold the organization accountable for our actions, and rely on the Chief Advisory Panel to ensure we are genuine in our approach to policing.

Mr. Thomas, thank you! Thank you for the powerfully positive way you handled this incident. Your final words stuck a cord with me…”Chief, I want the men and women of EPD to do their job. I don’t want them to fear contacting a person of color or hesitate and get hurt. I just want them to use discretion. The black community needs the police as much as any other community. I felt he contacted me because I was black, and I needed to say something.”

Jeff, your actions and courage is how Eureka reduces bias and builds a community where civility is the norm. Thank you.

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/Study?tid=-1

 

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Immigration: “Investigative Necessity”

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My grandbabies, Florence and Miguel V, are brown. Their father, Miguel IV, immigrated to this great nation from Guadalajara, Mexico.  I could not be more proud of Miguel, Steffenie and the babies.  At two Florence can speak English and Spanish.  Well actually Florence speaks Spanglish. Her first word was “besos,” Spanish for kiss. This was during the same time her daddy was detained at a U.S. airport for being in the U.S. illegally; except Miguel is an American citizen. He was detained because when asked to show his green card he could only offer a California driver’s license.  Americans don’t carry green cards.

So when the topic of immigration policy comes up, it gets my full attention. I want what is best for my family and my community, as do you, but I have seen the pain poor policy causes.  Sound and reasonable policy fosters a healthy community, so EPD strives to promulgate healthy policy.

Each Eureka Police Officer swore an oath to “fight all enemies foreign and domestic.” That does not stop because some people are uncomfortable with our oath, laws or policy.  There are people here who would do us harm to benefit their ideology, belief system or to gain personal profit.  For almost 40 years I have fought to keep us safe and will continue to do so, from foreigners and homegrown criminals.  It is a constant struggle to create strategy that inflicts the maximum damage to criminal organizations and those who run them. Here is what this fight does not include.

EPD will not stop, detain or arrest people because of their color, national origin, race or religion. That is unconstitutional, unlawful and wrong. EPD policy says, immigration enforcement is only conducted for “serious violations or investigative necessity.” Detain an American citizen because of his/her religion, race, or national origin…welcome to the Federal Courts, where you will rightfully lose.  Losing public money for minimal crime prevention benefit is bad business and furthermore bad policy.

EPD will not become immigration officers.  We do not have the skills, training or tools.  This is not how I believe we should spend our precious time and minimal resources. Immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility, not a local one.  The 250,000 Homeland Security personnel can handle this duty well. Having said that, if any federal agency calls for help we will be there for them. Not communicating with them and sharing intelligence on very serious crime and terror issues is shortsighted and leaves Eureka vulnerable.  EPD is not interested however finding reasons to detain people for minor infractions.

Zero tolerance policing for selective sections of law becomes onerous and over polices this community. If we were to enforce all laws ICE is responsible for, can you imagine the police checking for fake Louis Vuitton purses? It’s absurd. We also do not seek to stop, detain or arrest for every infraction officers observe. We also would not detain a school mom for dropping her kids off at school in a red zone at school, a very dangerous problem.

The police must possess the ability to enforce all laws, but use discretion when to enforce those laws. If not the justice system would implode due to cost and focusing on the wrong problems and wrong priorities.  When someone is breaking into your home, should a police officer stop to ticket a speeder? No, of course not, discretion is essential, including in the area of immigration.

If, during a serious crime investigation, we identify someone who needs to be detained, we search for legal grounds to take that person off the street.  The person, not their family.  Often that means revoking their probation or parole. It could also mean calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration may be the only tool available and if that stops violence, EPD will use that tool.  What I don’t believe we should do is throw away the tool.  That becomes ineffective policy. Those who advocate to stop the police from investigating crimes committed by undocumented people have not considered the consequences of banning all immigration enforcement. I have worked cases of kidnapping and murder where ICE was a tool used to further the investigation. EPD policy says, immigration enforcement is only conducted for “serious violations or investigative necessity.”

Here is a truth: very often those most victimized by criminals migrants are those closest to them.  I cannot imagine being the victim of a serial sexual assault and afraid to speak up, because if I do I’d be deported. This is a choice some migrants face. The local police may be their only salvation from a living hell, and they must feel comfortable coming to EPD for help.  If we rigorously enforce immigration, with zero tolerance vigor, migrants and those here legally will not seek us out for help, but will avoid the police.  I believe that is morally wrong.

As a nation we need to fix our immigration system. We desperately need a virtual Ellis Island on the west coast and policy that is fair and just, one where we don’t split families or bar the poor, yet policy that still shields ourselves from criminals, transnational gangs and terrorists. If we drop the rhetoric and work together, we can create this policy and have a path toward legitimacy.  When we do, I believe the migrant community will support it and help this country continue to be exceptional.

I wrote this to explain my thoughts and therefore EPD’s policy on immigration. I welcome your feedback and input at amills@ci.eureka.ca.gov.

To read a copy of our immigration policy please go to EPD’s Transparency Portal.

http://www.ci.eureka.ca.gov/depts/police/epd_transparency_portal/default.asp

 

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Adios, Sheriff Mike Downey

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Interagency cooperation is vital to the success of any police agency. No matter how big or small, each department relies on its local, state and federal partners to be effective. Mike Downey, the Sheriff of Humboldt, has been a great partner.  Mike is one who is quick to answer his phone and bring resources to the table.  Within one hour of finding out I was the newly appointed Chief of Police, Mike Downey called me to welcome me to Humboldt, offering his home as a place to stay…short term.  Billy Honsal has proven to be just as collaborative.

EPD arrested an armed robber plaguing the downtown area. The jail was full and I needed space to put this person in jail.  I called Mike and Mike made room in the inn.  EPD had operations that needed extra personnel.  Mike NEVER said, “No.”  He always stepped up to the plate and helped.  It was Mike’s strength that instituted and maintained a countywide SWAT team when EPD shuttered its doors to a tactical team.  EPD and HCSO currently staff the team that he sustained.  His SWAP unit has been immeasurable in cleaning up the ecological disaster left by illegal camping.  Mike Downey has lead from the front in the local Chief’s group and the Humboldt County Drug Task Force.  The list could go on.

What people may not recognize or understand is that while we may be dysfunctional at times, things work based on the strength and personality of executives like Mike Downey, who don’t harbor their assets like marbles on the playground, but share their resources for the betterment of its citizens. This sharing includes the DA, Fire Chiefs, Police Chiefs, DHHS, Probation, the Sheriff and Public Defender.  Yes, it takes all of us in the system to ensure effective government, even though at times we may be on the opposite side of the table.

Humboldt will take a hit with Mike’s retirement, but I am sure Billy Honsal will step in and help immensely. Likewise the newly appointed public defender, David Marcus, will be a good addition to ensuring justice and individual rights are protected.

Enjoy your well-earned retirement Mike.  You and Annette have served us well.

 

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Sentimental Affection or Actionable Love…Race in America

A few people called for a copy of my MLK speech.  Here it is…as it was supposed to have been said.  There may be a few minor differences.  Also is a video of the great folks who turned out to celebrate Dr. King from the LoCo.

“Love that does not satisfy justice is no love at all. It is merely a sentimental affection, little more than one would have for a pet.” MLK

Here, in Eureka we just march together. We stood together and now we sit with one another unity. We have just demonstrated to the world that love can win.  That a community can treat one another as each of us would and to be treated following the Golden Rule.

As marcher crossed the bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and were met by police in riot gear. Today we crossed the bridge together, locked arm in arm, heart in heart, with the understanding that when one hurts we all hurt. As Eurekan’s we understand that lifting up the weakest among us, up lifts all of us. There is not a white America or black America, poor or wealthy America, but one America.

Today, I issue a challenge to all the people Eureka and Humboldt who believe in faith and justice; let’s get past sentimental affection and ensure justice in policing, the courts, education and housing. Let’s not see a person by anything other than a brother or sister in this ritual we call life.

I am asking you…to intentionally and purposefully go out of your way to respect others and treat them kindly, so we can make the leap from sentimental affection to actionable love.

Small efforts can have a big effect. Saying hello, holding a door or shaking a hand. Each week, I am focused on doing an act to bring people closer. You can also.

As the biblical prophet Amos said, “Let justice roll like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream.” This is the beginning of justice…to demonstrate our righteousness.

MLK wrote from jail to fellow Christian preachers who were concerned that the protest were “untimely”, “Our destiny is tied up…with the destiny of America.” Humboldt, our destiny, our future is tied up with each other.

 

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MLK Day

Eureka we have an opportunity to demonstrate what compassion looks like.  How we can unit as one to show that all people are welcomed, regardless of faith, race, color or creed. Join us 11:00 am on March 16, 2017 at EPD to show the world where justice begins.    Please see the attached press release.

MLK Speech

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Police Transparency Portal

Eureka Police Transparency Portal

In an effort to be transparent, the Eureka Police Department and the Chief’s Advisory Panel, have created a transparency portal. The purpose of this portal is to give direct access of EPD policy, statistics and press releases to the public.  The Transparency Portal will ultimately include officer involved shooting executive summaries, video released to the public via the media and more.  If there are items you would like to see included in this portal, please contact Brittany Powell our Public Information Officer, the Chief or any of the Captains.

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