As cities deal with reduced revenue and the need for social services rises, police budgets have grown as other municipal services have declined. Consequently, residents and some elected leaders are beginning to take a critical look at whether police budgets could and should be reduced and funds shifted to other services.
However, local electeds, particularly in small general law cities like South Pasadena, often are uncertain of their power over police budgets and how to effectively oversee police to make sure they are unbiased, do not use excessive force, and provide real public safety value for the tax dollars spent compared to alternative approaches. The webinar comes on the heels of a $450,000 settlement late last month the City of South Pasadena entered for the 2018 police killing of actress Vanessa Marquez during a welfare check.
To examine and clarify the role of city councils, Care First South Pasadena will hold a free webinar at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 11, to hear from veteran Bay Area police affairs attorney Jerry Threet. To get the link for the Zoom meeting, go to https://www.carefirstsouthpasadena.com/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We highly encourage every city council member in South Pasadena and surrounding communities in the San Gabriel Valley to attend this learning opportunity,” said attorney Helen Tran, Care First South Pasadena founding member. “Particularly at this time in history with growing economic and social inequality and concern about racism, cities must find a way to broaden social services and housing to their residents. This must entail reimagining public safety and critically examining police budgets.”
Threet, who has spent his career on issues of police oversight and accountability, public records and transparency, consumer and tenant protections, and employment law, serves as Investigative Officer for the Richmond, CA Community Police Review Commission. He also founded the Sonoma County Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach and served as its Director.
The office is the first civilian oversight agency established in Sonoma County, following the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in 2013 by a Deputy Sheriff that resulted in a wrongful death settlement costing the county $3 million. Threet has conducted hundreds of investigations, depositions, witness interviews, factual evaluations, negotiations, and community meetings, and has significant experience working with diverse populations.
As a civilian oversight attorney and consultant, he has conducted over 100 audits of police investigations, as well as independent investigations, including complex officer involved shootings, and a mass use of force incident in the jail. Threet, a Sonoma County resident, also serves as chair of the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights.
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