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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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City Council's misguided view of police "oversight"

Uploaded: Apr 26, 2022
There’s a serious misunderstanding of what role City Council members should have in dealing with the police department.
Last week, the council heard a biannual update from Police Chief David Swing on the status of the department and its relationship with the community. The reports grew out of community outreach in the wake of the George Floyd murder and violent and damaging protests elsewhere. Demonstrations in Pleasanton were peaceful and the chief joined in one.
Councilwoman Julie Testa raised concerns that the council had limited information on the February police shooting of a man armed with a knife outside an apartment in Hacienda Business Park. One week after the incident the police released a composite video of the situation as well as identified the man shot dead at the scene. Both the Pleasanton Police and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office are investigating the officer-involved shooting.
Testa said that the council has oversight responsibility and had received no more information than the public.
That’s exactly how it should be.
With the city manager style of government, the council has no authority or business being involved in the day-to-day operations of the city. Its role is to hire, guide, evaluate and fire, if necessary, the city manager. It sets policy. Day-to-day operations of the police department or any other department are the responsibility of the city manager and the department heads he hires. If the council has issue with a department, its remedy is the city manager’s office.
Both Testa and Valerie Arkin stated they were pleased with the direction of the department over the past two years there was still work to do for the council to fulfill the “oversight role” it had committed to. Assuming they had it right, then that’s a two-year-old mistake that needs to be rectified.
Mayor Karla Brown, according to the Weekly report, agreed. “Mayor Karla Brown emphasized the council's desire to serve a more substantial oversight role, and the need for an independent body for PPD to be accountable to.”
The department is ultimately responsible to the elected councilmembers through the city manager.
The council needs to stay out of day-to-day operations, whether police or public works, and deal with policy.
Community.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by MichaelB, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 26, 2022 at 8:45 am

MichaelB is a registered user.

The misguided part was the city government giving credibility to the claim that the police department was somehow "associated" with the George Floyd incident - and then required an "outreach" effort to placate BLM and "defund the police" protesters.


Posted by Lahommed, a resident of Dublin,
on Apr 26, 2022 at 9:11 am

Lahommed is a registered user.

The tri valley politicians failure start at the foundation when not fully backing our police and fire depts! Our country is a mess right now because of foolish and stupid ideologies that lack common sense. The tri valley is no different and our public safety is an issue because of the adoption of non support for our police and fire depts to include financially ! Want to help reduce crime being back Stop and Frisk.


Posted by Lahommed, a resident of Dublin,
on Apr 26, 2022 at 9:11 am

Lahommed is a registered user.

The tri valley politicians failure start at the foundation when not fully backing our police and fire depts! Our country is a mess right now because of foolish and stupid ideologies that lack common sense. The tri valley is no different and our public safety is an issue because of the adoption of non support for our police and fire depts to include financially ! Want to help reduce crime being back Stop and Frisk.


Posted by Rich Buckley, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 26, 2022 at 11:57 am

Rich Buckley is a registered user.

Even so, we need to make City Managers stop bamboozling City Councils. There are ways.

THE SANDBOX:

I'd like the general plan to include a voluntary resident-only planning sandbox play area where participants would be allocated a presence on the official city website homepage to openly discuss any matter. But this sandbox would have zero legal authority.

However it would have the MORAL PURSUASIVE powers inherent in gathering real time information on all non-personnel, non-lawsuit related finance information. It could call for all income, all expenses broken down to a near graphite level. It would also be given lists of all city assets, physical or financial.

Sandbox topics could for example create alternative development solutions, reprice city assets, illustrate methods of generating balanced budgets. They might then mitigate discussions on complex issues by creating alternative revenue streams. Run poles on Sandbox ideas.

City managers would have a love-hate relationship with this volunteer sandbox idea no doubt. We need to change a lot of things over the next few years and the stifling of public input on a vast array of topics is at the core of why the country, states, counties and cities are in chaos.

The SANDBOX will plumb a new level of citizen community participation enhancing the human spirt. Residents would be asked to use their real names.


Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 26, 2022 at 12:51 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I have great concern there may be diminishing citizen protection from out police department. I am concerned Chief Swing may be kowtowing to the three council members.

The three council members, Testa, Arkin and Brown should butt out. The incident Testa referred to is no more her business then it is citizen business. It is a police matter. The Alameda County District Attorney is handling it.

The police removed a threating, dangerous bad man from our community. I am grateful for that. I feel that I may be safer in my home in Pleasanton with his removal.


Posted by Just the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 27, 2022 at 9:36 am

Just the facts is a registered user.

Well said Tim! Thank you for writing this.


Posted by Matt+Sullivan, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Apr 27, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Matt+Sullivan is a registered user.

Tim Hunt is wrong about this. The City Council members are the representatives of the public in city government and are ultimately accountable for any actions taken by that government, including the police. Speaking from experience, there is much that goes on behind the scenes in the city that the Council never finds out about because the City Manager doesn't tell them. Kudos to Testa (who pioneered this years ago before she was on the Council), Arkin, and Brown for doing their job where past Councils haven't. A police department that operates without transparency or accountability is nothing more than a police state. It amazes me how Tim Hunt and the blog posters seem fine with that.


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Gatewood,
on Apr 27, 2022 at 3:23 pm

Nancy is a registered user.

Each area of city government has its role and the City employees should be given the resources and support to do their jobs. Micro managing is not effective and everyone should report to one boss. In the case of the Police Chief, that should be the City Manager.


Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 27, 2022 at 4:32 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Definition of police state:

A totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens' activities.

If Testa, Arkin and Brown with the support of the likes of Matt Sullivan have their way, Pleasanton will be a police state.


Posted by Matt+Sullivan, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Apr 27, 2022 at 5:14 pm

Matt+Sullivan is a registered user.

The "likes of Matt Sullivan"?

Jeremy and Gina - if you are serious about this blog being a legitimate form of community dialog then you would delete these types of personal attacks and ban "the likes of Michael Austin" from this blog for his long-time behavior of attacks. It's a form of bullying and meant to intimidate people and prevent them from having a voice. But knowing how you feel about me you probably would encourage it.


Posted by Matt+Sullivan, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Apr 27, 2022 at 5:31 pm

Matt+Sullivan is a registered user.

And since Gina will likely bring this up, my past criticisms of City Councils are not personal attacks, but legitimate criticism of elected officials guaranteed in a democracy. No comparison to what Austin and others do to me all the time with the tacit approval of the PW.


Posted by Kathleen+Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Apr 29, 2022 at 11:27 am

Kathleen+Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Ultimately, the police are the most heavily armed people in a community. To think one person, or even two including the police chief, are enough to guard against wrongful citizen deaths"especially with the worn out police phrase “I was in fear for my/partners' life/lives""is foolish. It is also foolish to believe an attorney general will find the police guilty of anything (see Deming or Bauer settlements).

Oversight by the the council (or a group/person with police experience similar to other communities) is a must. We have militarized many police departments. Let's be certain they are using those weapons to protect, not kill.


Posted by Malcolm Hex, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 29, 2022 at 3:40 pm

Malcolm Hex is a registered user.

Bravo! Well said, Tim.

Unfortunately, it appears that Kathleen+Ruegsegger (KR) is rather ill equipped to speak out about legal terminology and militarization.

For instance, KR said that the worn out police phrase “I was in fear for my/partners' life/lives" is foolish. Really? Foolish in what way? This phrase is in the Penal Code and is used in court every day - by citizens, as well as law enforcement. Furthermore, what answer would YOU give if you had to testify against a suspect who attempted to assault you?

You also stated, for the record, that "we" have militarized many police departments. What do you mean, "militarized?" Police applicants do not enlist, nor sign contracts for a tour of duty. Police do not carry grenades. Automatic weapons are generally assigned to specialized units within the department- such as SWAT.







Posted by Kathleen+Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Apr 30, 2022 at 8:10 am

Kathleen+Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Web Link

Certainly there is no reason for oversight . . .


Posted by John, a resident of Birdland,
on Apr 30, 2022 at 1:15 pm

John is a registered user.

Yes, the Las Angeles Times, a very reliable left wing source. Defund and disarm the police.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Apr 30, 2022 at 10:54 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

(portion removed because it was false)

There are 80,0000 people in Pleasanton, majority of whom have better things to do than read the Pleasanton weekly posts. They make their voices heard by their votes and by the most recent election results, the Democratic politicians have support from a vast majority of our citizens in Pleasanton, Alameda, and California. If I recall correctly, Democratic politicians won elections by huge margins like over 70% for congress and 60% for governor. They are certainly in minority which is why they are so angry.


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