In what appears to be a response to public pressure, the South Pasadena Police Department last Friday announced an expansion to the scope of City Manager Arminé Chaparyan’s plan for an “organizational assessment” of the police department.
The news was buried in a statement issued by SPPD, repeating Chaparyan’s Sept. 13 Public Safety Commission announcement of the commencement of a “process of putting together” a request for qualifications to find a consultant to complete the assessment. Plans are for the City Council to select the consultant after the beginning of the year.
Chaparyan told the PSC that the assessment would address the department’s organizational structure, workload, overall efficiency and use of technology. But that was insufficient in the view of dozens of supporters of South Pasadena’s social justice groups, who in recent public comment and letters to the City Council have demanded the work include a “racial bias audit” to investigate the racial attitudes of police officers and “root out extremists.”
The SPPD said the assessment will now include “a policy review from a lens of equality and in consideration of a social justice framework.” It offered no elaboration.
The release said the assessment “coincides” with the City’s ramping up of its strategic planning process and “with other city departments that are undergoing similar reviews,” though the City has not proposed RFQs for assessments of other departments. The announcement also said “the project” will include a public outreach effort.
The RFQ is being undertaken with Chaparyan’s guidance and “with the support of the Public Safety Commission and the City Council” the announcement said, though to date neither has publicly discussed it.
“An assessment of this nature is long overdue. The evaluation will provide the Police Department with tools to provide better service to the residents of South Pasadena efficiently and effectively while helping shape the organization to meet future challenges,” said Chief Brian Solinsky.
As Chaparyan stated before, the work of the selected consultant is “to be conducted through” the International City Managers Association.
ICMA is currently promoting a “social justice initiative.” Although it asserts that “systemic racial bias must be addressed on a community-wide basis to effectuate meaningful change,” ICMA’s prescription for addressing racism in police departments is confined to operational changes such as “revamping” officer selection and training processes and reassessing the kinds of services and calls to which police will respond.