The Democrats of the Desert’s Board of Directors sends a “thumbs up” to V. Manuel Perez, chair of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, for proposing that the Supervisors initiate a review of Riverside County’s policing policies and a request for community engagement through public forums.
Unfortunately, DOD feels the need to give a “thumbs down” to the other four supervisors, none of whom would second Supervisor Perez’s motion. Those supervisors who essentially refused to take action or even hold community discussions are: Jeff Hewitt, Kevin Jeffries, Karen Spiegel and Chuck Washington.
The Supervisors did approve a resolution condemning the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and supporting criminal charges for the four officers involved in his death. This is a positive move; but refusal to even second Perez’s other motion is unconscionable.
Democrats of the Desert calls for the Board of Supervisors to immediately pass the resolution Manny Perez proposed. DOD urges them to demand and direct Sheriff Chad Bianco to work with them and the community for a full review of policing policies and procedures.
“It appears that the Board of Supervisors, other than Manny Perez, want to bury their heads in the sand and claim that there’s no policing problem nor systemic racism here,” said Democrats of the Desert (DOD) President Dori Smith of Palm Desert. “They need to wake up to the new reality—millions of Americans of all ages and demographics are fed up with police killings of ANY Americans, but especially black Americans––and are demanding accountability for police departments AND all American institutions.
“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department––because police officers’ actions can mean life, serious injury or death to the average citizen––is the natural place to start a review of possible racism within the Superintendents’ purview,” she added.
Democrats of the Desert board members are also outraged at Sheriff Bianco’s attitude at the June 9, 2020 meeting, as reported. To quote him: “it’s not your job to tell me what to do,” and he claimed that he alone––if and when he sets up an advisory council–– would decide on “acceptable community members” and what would be considered “legitimate concerns.” This seems to be a prime example of arrogance that derives from a culture of non-accountability that Americans are protesting against.
“Chief Reyes of the Palm Springs Police Department has started a review of that department’s policies,” Smith added. “One has to ask this question: Why won’t the Supervisors and the Sheriff even consider the same idea? We’d like to remind them that they are accountable to the voters.”
Michael Finland, a member of the DOD board who spent 39 years in law-enforcement in New York, has recommendations: “Each municipality needs to establish protocol and criteria for individual police departments to re-evaluate practices and procedures; to put forth intense sensitivity training; to revise their measures when responding to individuals who may or may not have committed a crime; to consider the implementation and usage of civilian review panels (for civilian complaints against police officers); to enact more thorough background-check measures for the hiring of police officer candidates; and to conduct annual psychological screening, on a regular basis, for police officers. These are just a few of the measures that are called for, but the finalized list would be even more extensive.”
Smith added: “Democrats of the Desert, which represents many County voters, looks forward to seeing real action from the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff––to build an environment where ALL people feel safe and protected when approached by law-enforcement officers charged with protecting them.”
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