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CPRB-in-Exile ?

Will Mark Halfmoon and survivors from the Citizens Police Review Board began a grass-roots movement for tough civilian oversight? They need help.
I sent the following letter to the Sentinel this morning (250 word limit).



Dear Sentinel,

On 1-21, City Council voted to slash more than 2/3 of the CPRB (Citizens Police Review Board) budget ($60,000) for the year, without any formal testimony from the CPRB.

Not content, on January 27 Council returned from a shadowy Ad Hoc Budget Advisory Committee meeting from which the public was excluded and to which CPRB members were not invited. It then voted to lock the CPRB’s door two days later, and turn over all pending cases to a costly out-of-town attorney in spite of CPRB’s agreement to meet without pay or staff to continue its work until a new model could be formalized.

Mayor Reilly slashed public comment from the standard 3 minutes for individuals and five minutes for organization to 2 minutes and 0 minutes respectively--on both January 21st and January 27th.

Why the rush? In December the CPRB passed a resolution against selective enforcement--a resolution still not agenda-ized even though Council Policy 5.14 requires the Mayor do so or explain why.

In November the CPRB demanded Chief Steve Belcher return files on the summer 2001 SCPD killing of Raymond Quintin (in response to a shot from an “inoperative” gun)
and stop a year of stonewalling on his policy of not requiring officers to fill out written reports when they display force.

Crying poverty, but leaving the SCPD $100,000 for SCPD vehicle abatement, and $1,000,000+ for its public relations hardly makes economic sense, but does stop these
uppity investigations. With Kennedy and Reilly, who needs Ashcroft? Support a CPRB-in-exile.

Sincerely,

Robert Norse (423-4833)



You can comment on this Blue-and-Yellow (Police and City Council) coup by calling Mayor Reilly at 420-5022, City Council at 420-5017, and Kennedy at 420-5028. Demand
Belcher act on racial profiling, selective enforcement, use of force policy, and the Raymond Quintin investigation at 420-5810.

The CPRB was always a weak fig leaf, but in the last year it had begun investigations, which might have generated public support for a stronger model. Its failure to publicly advocate for itself, hold one single public hearing on a complaint, or hold forums involving real policy questions did not bode well and set the stage for this current euthansia.

The fact that it was extremely ineffective in the matter of complaints (though in the end, it upheld more than twice as many as the Police Chief over its eight year life) didn’t mean it wasn’t trying to move in a new direction. It was that attempt that probably precipitated its quick-and-dirty smothering.

But we as a community are entitled to real police oversight. This sudden smothering of the Board is a way of cutting off hopeful investigations and impulses that now need to be pursued independently.

The Council action also smacks of racism (the Chair and Vice-Chair are black) and cronyism (returning all power to the City Manager's police department pals).

The death of the CPRB also affects street performers and those being targeted under the new Downtown Ordinances, since selective enforcement is so intrinsic a part of the new policy.

It was the CPRB that agreed to hold the hearings that City Council, the Downtown Commission, mainstream media, etc. disdained on police harassment. It was the CPRB that voted a resolution against selective enforcement.

Anti-war protests are likely to heat up as Bush ignores the majority at home. In 1990-1, SCPD cowboys drove cars into crowds and engaged in other terrorist police behaviors
unchecked and apparently undisciplined. With even the shadow forum of the CPRB gone, such behavior seems more rather than less likely.

I encourage folks to use audio and video cameras extensively, and to post documentation on this website. With no CPRB, it’s even more important to watch and report incidents of police misconduct publicly, if they happen to you directly, if you see them, or if you hear about them.

Mark Halfmoon has proposed a new Initiative independent of City Council to establish strong citizen police review. Provided the community doesn’t get lost in a year-long
dialogue about the “best form”, I like this idea. In the meantime, it would be good to set up some kind of defacto tribunal/process for airing complaints about police misconduct.

It’s also important not to get embroiled in a bogus City Council discussions about this issue. Their swift “downtown-ordinance style” process killing the Board show they are clearly insincere about any meaningful police review and apparently responsive to Police Chief Belcher’s priorities.

Actually even the forthcoming "auditor model" discussion doesn't look like it's going to be public. It’s pretty clear this Council hates any kind of real public process. They voted to turn the whole issue into closed door meetings between City Manager and some CPRB members (two of whom, Arnie Leff and Jim King, turned coat and supported the killing of the Board, pretty clearly because they don’t like its uppity independent new direction).

I encourage everyone to support Mark Halfmoon's Citizens Police Review Board-in-Exile project. E-mail him your support at markhalfmoon (at) yahoo.com or leave him a phone
message at 457-9754 X1788.

I'll be playing the second half of a long and powerful interview with him on Sunday on Free Radio at 96.3 FM 10 AM - 1:30 PM (probably around 11 AM). You can also tune
in at www.microradio.net/frsc .

Mark also has a powerful commentary posted at www.santacruz.indymedia.org .

 
 


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Comments

Exile?

I have a much better suggestion, Robert. Gather up your flock, pretend you're Moses, and exile yourself and the rest of the self hating malcontents to your home town in Carmel. A word of thanks is in order though because without you and Becky's unending attacks on our police department and elected representatives the CPRB would probably still be a (non) functioning element of our government. It isn't necessary and if a serious problem arises with the performance of an officer(s) our ELECTED OFFICIALS will deal with it fairly, honestly, and without the destructive agenda that is always behind you and your entourage's hateful efforts.
 

City of Santa Cruz Police Department

logopolicemenu2.gif
Statistics:

Number of Officers: 100
Administration and Non-Officer Staff: 31


Board Members on the
Santa Cruz Citizens' Police Review Board: 7
 

Another Update on the CPRB Gutting

I spoke briefly with Mayor Reilly yesterday about her mini-meeting of the Ad Hoc Budget Committee that made the rush recommendation between the January 21st and the January 27th Council meetings to completely kill the CPRB on January 29th and turn over the store to a Dick Wilson appointee (Bob Arenson, in this case, the CPRB attorney-advisor).
Reilly "couldn't remember" details. This was the second or third time I'd asked her when and with whom this committee met.
On January 21st when the first rush recommendation hit that the CPRB budget be slashed, there was still the pretense that the CPRB itself was not being abolished, but "restructured". The Budget Committee meeting at which that decision was made was also not announced, nor open to CPRB and public input.
The point here is to highlight the privatized backroom process that took place prior to City Council meetings and the rushed nature of that process. Almost identical with the process that rubberstamped prefabricated Downtown Ordinances last summer and fall.
It also had little to do with any budget savings.
Further when I asked Reilly why she was refusing to allow the public 3 minutes per person and 5 minutes per organization as has always been standard in public hearings on legal changes, she nodded and nervously agreed that would be a good idea.
The only problem here is I raised the same issue in telephone messages before the January 27th Council meeting (when the CPRB law was repealed) and the January 14th Council meeting (when the new Downtown Ordinance "Forbidden Zones" and "Move-Along Laws" were passed). She declined to respond or explain to advance telephone messages requesting assurance of adequate time. At that time such respect for traditional public input (inadequate still, but far better than what we've been getting) might have made a difference. Her smiles and nods now sound disingenuous.
It is, of course, true that Councilmembers are under strong pressure from city council staff, the City Manager, and the Police Chief. That was no excuse for former Mayor Chris Krohn's abysmal failure around pressing for strong police review, and it's no excuse for Reilly. Reilly, in fact, picked up this abusive "2 minutes per member of the public" approach from Krohn.
Mark Halfmoon, Chair of the CPRB-in-exile, pointed out that private developers got loads of time to make their case on Item #22--a Planning Development Permit for 121 Market St. Reilly even sandwiched in an additional agenda item, making CPRB supporters wait further.
So the public waited and waited only to dash through their 2 minutes of public testimony on January 27th, and then have to listen to the insincere and endless apologia of City Council--which spent an hour or more in posturing and prattle, and ended up passing the same closed-room recommendation that the City staff cooked up in the first place to kill the CPRB.
Reilly added insult to injury, by only giving Chair Halfmoon and Vice-Chair Fouse an appointment to speak with her the day AFTER the final vote (on Wednesday January 28th). At that time, instead of a full discussion, she allowed them only 15 minutes.
Reilly assured me that she makes regular appointments on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in the early afternoons for 15 minute periods. If you want such an appointment call her at 420-5022 or contact City Council during office hours at 420-5020.
I'm not quite sure I see the point to conversations with her, until people unite to lead a movement for a stronger police review board, a system of guaranteed public access to City Council, and a real agenda. That kind of organizing is far more important, particularly as we move into wars of aggression and stepped up internal repression.
 

Letter to City on a Hill 2-11

The following letter was sent to UCSC's City on a Hill Press, but apparently was never published:

Burying Issues & Booting Out Black Activists:
The Reilly-Kennedy Council Kills the CPRB
Expanded letter to City on a Hill Press from Robert Norse 2-11-03

Thanks to Amity Bacon for her brief coverage of City Council’s backroom bushwacking of the Citizens Police Review Board [“Police Oversight:Could the Review Board Hack It? City Council Cuts the CPRB” CHP 2-6]. Under the pretext of a budget crisis, City Council staged a rushed
execution of the only City Commission that was looking into serious problems in the Santa Cruz Police Department--the Citizens Police Review Board.

These problems include Racial Profiling, Selective Enforcement of Laws Against the Young and the Poor, Escalation of Minor Incidents Into Massive Confrontations Downtown, Undocumented Display and Use of Force, Inadequately Investigated Lethal Shootings (such as that of Raymond Quinten in the summer of 2001), Political Surveillance, Bottomless Police Budgets, and Biased or
False Internal Affairs Investigations.

None of these issues made the mainstream media (or CHP). Former CPRB Chair Mark Halfmoon and former Vice-Chair Brent Fosse are both local working-class African-Americans intent on seeing real reforms in the Police Department. If they get sufficient community support, they are unlikely to let real problems of abusive police behavior and economic and racial discrimination be buried
with the Board. Hence the hasty move to disband the Board before it can meet again in February.

Since “budget necessities” are the Council’s excuse, it is ironic that Police Chief Steve Belcher and City Manager Dick Wilson, two of the highest paid City officials (over 150 K per year), will still be getting full salary, Not a penny of the $1 million PR section of Belcher’s $30 million police budget is being cut. But the CPRB’s $83,000 per year is being slashed and transferred to a Palo Alto attorney as “interim auditor.”

The “auditor” model is more expensive, less transparent, and less community-involved than a citizen’s board. Money would not be saved; rather the supremacy of the SCPD and its insistence of excluding all community control and oversight. A real auditor has to be a professional, not a volunteer like the current Board; she or he needs the power to investigate--another increased cost.

The files of existing complaints have been removed with unseemly haste from the CPRB offices to the bowels of the City Manager’s office, even though the old law (requiring CPRB meetings) will still be in force until March. Mayor Reilly rushed through the abolition of the CPRB without one public committee hearing, with no CPRB members invited, & without a report on alternative models.

In a time when police state tactics are becoming the norm nationally and internationally, it’s time for Santa Cruz to reassert real control of the police. Contact Mark Halfmoon at 457-9754 X1788 for more information on the meeting time of the CPRB-in-exile.

Robert Norse
HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom)
 

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