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SCPD General Orders now Online

Santa Cruz Copwatch is pleased to announce the availability of part of the Santa Cruz Police Department General Orders as of 12-29-2004 online.

If you have ever had any questions as to the proper Santa Cruz Police procedure and behavior according to local, state, and federal laws, the SCPD General Orders is probably the most thorough and detailed document available to find the answer. It is also sometimes helpful in finding out what the city expects the behavior of the public to be in certain situations.

The General orders are available at:

Santa Cruz Police Department General Orders as of 12-29-2004

Generally all police departments have General Orders, Departmental Bulletins, a Duty Manual, or some other documents setting priorities, clarifying laws, and defining procedures. Many have them are available for review at the police department or the library. Some even have the whole thing online like these departments.

I found that Santa Cruz did not have their general orders available through any of these venues. So, I submitted a California Public Records Act request asking for a copy of the General Orders. The request ended up taking almost three months to fulfill, which was a little surprising since I believe every officer is supposed to be given a copy of these orders implying copying should be easy to do. The Police Records and Services department was very nice and polite in my dealings with them and offered to give me the copies for free since they took so long, but not wanting to be seen as inappropriately using Santa Cruz taxpayer money I offered to pay for the copies anyway.

The portions of the manual that exist in electronic form are below. The actual manual is 788 pages and I am working on scanning the whole thing into PDF and will make it available here when I am finished. I have heard from the Independent Police Auditor that the new Police Chief Howard Skerry and the City Council are currently working on updating many of the General Orders, so there may change dramatically in the near future.

I found GO #45, GO #42, and GO #99. I'm not a lawyer but my understanding is that #45 requires officers to use their in car video and audio recording for all stops and carry a wireless microphone. #42 restricts the ability of officers to hold second jobs while being a full-time police officer and asks them to not act as police officers while working as an off-time security guard. Which is good to hear since other cities do not directly ask officers to not use their plice badge as private security guards, but we still have the problem that a SCPD officer does not make enough to buy the average house in Santa Cruz. #99 says that a Taser is NOT a substitute for deadly force, asks the officer to try to only use it when back up is present, and to not threaten the use of a Taser unless the situation is appropriate for the actual use of it. Tasers are also not to be used on pregnant women or where the victim may be likely to cause harm to themselves by falling great heights or into a hazardous environment. Another interesting note, not in the General Orders currently online, is that SCPD officers are not to smoke while interacting with the public in an official capacity, which I do not remember seeing any officers in Santa Cruz doing, but happens often in Berkeley, and I wonder what Berkeley's policy is on smoking.

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Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Good work Tom. It's efforts like this of Copwatch that lets those in power know we are watching. In Santa Cruz the often harsh methods and selective use of enforcement by local police have many considering downtown a mini police state. I'm all for serve and protect but too often the target of police arrests and harassment is the homeless, the poor, the youth, and others deemed undesirable by local business and elitist homeowners. The laws on the books that criminalize the poor, the Downtown Ordinances, are the real root of the proplem. Bad laws make for bad police work. It will take a real effort to rid our community of these bad laws and to regain human rights for all. I'm in the struggle and glad to see you are there too.

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Capital work, Tom! THIS is investigative journalism for real.

Copwatch Educational audio mix


Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Very nice.

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Tom, do you have any info on "Broken Windows" the template for policing in Santa Cruz? My understanding is that the policies developed by a right wing think tank have been expanded to form policy on policing which have been adopted by San Jose as well as Santa Cruz.

Broken Windows places the police officer as the gatekeeper for our community. The police officer scans his beat and looks for who "belongs" and who "doesn't belong". Those who don't belong are generally considered "strangers."

In a city like ours, where we encourage visitors year round to enhance our economic base, this policy seems ill-founded at the start.

Ways to see how "Broken Windows" is implemented in a discriminatory fashion would be to find out how many citations for sitting on the sidewalk, conduct on public property, and dog on the mall (to pick three of several ordinances which could be looked at) have been issued to people identified as "homeless" "transient" or "115 Coral St." as an address. If more than 3% of the tickets are issued to these people, selective enforcement will be documented. And selective enforcement is illegal denying individuals equal protection under the law.

"Broken Windows" considers the first panhandler in an area as a "broken window" needing to be "fixed" (not helped mind you. but arrested or driven from the area).

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

The Broken Windows theory is mentioned in detail in the guide to how citizens can use the police and making citizen's arrest in the Santa Cruz main library. I haven't seen it in the General Orders thus far in my reading, and I haven't seen Howard Skerry mention it.

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

I find it somehow funny that Becky thinks that if enforcement actions (or whatever they are called) go up above a certain percentage, then there is selective enforcement. That would mean that, in the city of Santa Cruz, with a population of 54,500, if more than (roughly) 1,600 tickets are issues to homeless or transient people, then it MUST be selective enforcement.

Allos me to state the obvious (and Steve Argue, please stay out of this because you never bring and new info into the dicussion): Most of the arrests of people ANYWHERE are for crimes more likely to be committed (not enforced upon) by the riffraff we are talking about. Again, no one is in favor of homelessness... no one loves misery and poverty (steve, stay out of this). But in the end, the problem lies in that the majority of the people who are herion addicts are homeless; the majority of crack addicts are transients; etc. So thus placing the first name on their character as being "homeless" is deceiving: what got them to their state of homelessnes?

You never seem to want to discuss this issue. You always seem to dodge around it. I'm sorry for the guy who is addicted to heroin and is homeless and arrested, but that doesn't mean I want him living next to me. Get real. No one does. And just because Santa Cruz is so welcoming to those folks in their minds doesn't mean that they are lovely people to have as neighbors.

Go ahead, I'm sure you'll rip my post into pieces, but I am content in blowing off my steam, and knowing that, while you have tv and radio shows, no one in this community really thinks you are viable activists.

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Cyrus... finally someone with common sense.

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Cyrus is right on - Becky and Robert are two idiots that are the laughing stock of Santa Cruz - if the SCPD were to disband would that make them happy - I can guarantee that they wouldnt want the Sheriffs to run the pacific garden mall -

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Great work Tom. But I would challenge any of you other posters to become "viable activists" yourself. It amazes me that some people consider working with Robert and Becky to be a liability and they don't want to be seen with them. The main problem as I see it is to get very many people at all motivated to do ANYTHING but sit at home watching TV. Too many times even the supporters walk past me and say "thank you for being out here" but I don't see them picking up a sign and joining me. I guess there just needs to be an event with as much sparkle and sizzle as TV to get people interested...A specific last minute appeal of a Death Row case can sometimes fit the bill for instance. The International Socialist Organization also appears to be an effective organization, at least at UCSC, drawing about 20 people at the last meeting.

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

In my opinion, one of the MAJOR problems with Becky and Robert is precisely what I raised- that to them it is nothing but the world against the people they seek to represent (but do so in a self-announced way). They rail against the police in SC for arresting someone, but they never, EVERY as whether that person deserved to be arrested. They highlight the plight of about 20-40 homeless individuals on Pacific Ave, but NEVER seem to do anything about the many (thousands, in their estimation) homeless people who are not nuisances and public safety issues. They NEVER are present in any dialogue that helps solve the larger issue; they villify anyone who is not 100% with them (and no one will EVER be 100% with them, let's be honest); And lastly- they do NOTHING to help people move out of homelessness, they only rail against the "system" so they can get more self-publicity and stay relevent in their own minds. Meanwhile, many of us (and I am not an out of town troll) are working our butts off every day, both in our day jobs (you know, Becky and Robert, the thing that we need to do to make money to live, unlike you) and in volunteer positions to help the homeless.

The reason why many of us do not give our names is that Becky and Robert, while marginal individuals, still seem to have enough credibility that, should anyone who lives and is active in this community step up against them, they would be blasted by B&R. And, as we all know with their reporting (esp. Becky's) they are EXTREMELY one-sided in all they do. Robert may say things like "anyone is welcome to join my radio show" but anyone who ends up debating him ends up having words put into his/her mouth by R, being asked to conform to the world as he sees it, etc. There are no degrees to these two, so even though they sleep in comfort on their own, anyone who doesn't join them in their strangely personal crusade on their terms is against them.

All of these traits (which are hard to put into words but easy for anyone who knows these two to understand) make it hard for some of us to accept them.

Yes, I fully and heartily appreciate what Mr. Belote has done, which is why I didn't say anything until Becky popped her big head into this string. I guess I just feel like I bite my tongue 90% of the time, and sometimes I just can't take her/their hypocritical, egotistical attitudes anymore.

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

ok cyrus,
i dont understand why youre posting on this article. because you dont like becky and robert? do you plan on posting after every time either becky or robert post so you can discredit them as individuals and say how their opinions are invalid?
rather than denouncing them as people, why dont you try to debate the facts with them. If theyre so wrong all the time, then it wont be hard for you win any debate they (or you) stir up.
so far all youve done is say how one sided they are, how they are egotistical, and basically are trying to carry out a charachter assassination.
i challenge you to actually debate the content of their postings (as opposed to the posters themselves) if you feel it is incorrect or one sided.

Thanks for the work, Tom

Personal rants aside, Cyrus is correct in writing that disproportionate arrests in any population group do not NECESSARILY indicate selective enforcement or profiling.

Some believe that homeless people (or black and Latino people) are more likely to commit crimes. Hey, who wants them dirty furtive drug addicts in our neighborhood? Unless they're well-dressed, paying rent, and out of sight, of course.

Why do Becky and I get Cyrus so riled? I think it's cause he (or she...who knows when someone won't give their real name?) has no good arguments other than personal attacks. There just aren't good arguments for the absurd and unfair laws that target poor and homeless people.

Sleeping, camping, blanket, sparechanging, and sitting bans are all designed to give police broad selective enforcement powers.

In Santa Cruz these ordinances are particularly hypocritical because they expose the fraudulent "progressive" image of City Council and the town.

Thanks again, and once more, if Cyrus, "Huh", "P. Davidson", or anyone else--using whatever names they choose--are welcome to discuss issues (and even to rant a bit) on Free Radio at 427-3772 on Thursdays 6-8 PM and Sundays 9:30 AM to 1 PM. The more facts you bring, the further we'll get.

Much thanks to Tom B, for making available the General Police Orders. It's a valuable document-since it provides us with some of the supposed police guidelines.

Tom, did you ever dig up any specifics on how police are supposed to react to copwatchers?

Or under what circumstances they can legitimately arrest for an infraction offense?

Or what their guidelines are for taking citizen arrests (merchants, yes; homeless,no?)?

Re: SCPD General Orders now Online

Well, yes- who DOES want dirty furtive drug addicts in our neighborhoods? I don't. I'd love to see a poll that showed that most people wouldn't mind having just such a person hanging out in their yard. And I think I have fine arguments, they just happen to be antithetical to yours. I know I'll never change your mind, but I'd like to put another point of view out there, that's all. I get upset that you seem to coopt the "homeless issue" in santa cruz, and you are some of the worst messengers for a cause I have ever seen.

All of this takes away from the point: Mr. Belote provided a great service here. It was used by people who are not in great respect by a good deal of people in this community to enforce their own agenda. That made me upset. I posted. 'Nuff said. I've provided polemics and debate material, so it isn't like it has just been a flame throw the whole time.

And as pussycat as Robert comes across here, try actually debating anything with him in person. One could say "I am against police brutality" and he would respond "So, does that mean you're NOT against soldier brutality?" That's not the sort of up front debate I like to engage in, so that's why I choose to stay away from it. Like it or not, that is why forums like this exist.

Intoxication and homelessness

Does a person DESERVE to be arrested for sitting on a sidewalk? Does a person DESERVE to be arrested for falling asleep after 11 PM? And yes I can advocate for the right of the heroin addict to sit down and to sleep. He's a human being after all.

As to your real question about drugs and alcohol, my understanding of it is this. We have a problem with addiction and substance abuse among people who live in houses too. As much as 15% of people who are housed fit that category. Among the newly homeless, that 15% figure is the same. However, after about 4 months on the street, the rate jumps to about 30% because the condition of being on the streets is so miserable, people self-medicate to get a little relief.

So the substance use/abuse stems from them becoming homeless, not that the drug/alcohol use particularly CAUSED the homelessness.

The CAUSE of homelessness is the high cost of housing vs. low wage jobs

People who are using drugs, do better in rehab if they can get back into housing.


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