A report from the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) contains almost 130 specific recommendations on the operations of the Culver City Police Department, while a report from Solidarity Consulting’s report was focused on different approaches to tackling issues of racial equity in policing.
The recommendations from CPSM cover a wide scope, from succession planning to mental health evaluation team (MET) recommendations, to school resource officer recommendations to recruitment, training, and performance recommendations.
These reports were put together as part of a Public Safety Review done by the city in the wake of the George Floyd protests, and made available to the public with the Jan. 25 city council meeting agenda.
The first main thing the firm noted was the instability in the change of leadership within the CCPD. “At the time of the CPSM site visit, the department’s leadership, made up of the chief, one assistant chief, one captain, two lieutenants, and three sergeants, carried vacancies or long term on-duty injuries,” the report began.
“The subsequent trickle-down effect resulted in a number of positions moving up a position in rank as acting: chief, assistant chief, captain, two lieutenants, three sergeants, and the Records/Property supervisor. This represents a 42 percent vacancy rate in the management staff and a 21 percent vacancy rate in supervisory staff, which results in a workload that is overly taxing.”
This effect was also felt in patrols, as there were three vacancies on patrol, or a 5% vacancy rate. CPSM states that while it can be manageable in some situations to maintain patrol vacancies, the lack of permanent structure in the command chain makes it a “a situation that is taxing on the remaining staff who must fill in the gaps.”
To this end, CPSM recommends finding a permanent police chief as soon as possible, saying that the rest of the vacant positions will fall into place following the cementing of a permanent chief.
Several recruitment recommendations were also made, including to “emphasize recruitment materials that attract underrepresented populations, such as women, for police officer positions.”
According to CPSM’s report, “On average, in local police departments, about 1 in 8 full-time sworn officers, and about 1 in 10 first-line supervisors, are female. From 1997 to 2016, the proportion of female officers rose from 10 percent to 12 percent nationally.” According to the Nov. 2020 monthly report released by the CCPD, just nine of the 110 sworn personnel in the department are female, which is just 8%. Women make up 17% of the total staff at the CCPD (25 of 147).
Annual reviews of several policies were also recommended, including the K9 policy, the Field Training Operations (FTO) policy manual.
CPSM also called for the addition of selection procedures and criteria in several of these manuals, including the K9 policy and the Watches, Schedules, and Rotation policy for traffic control.
The report from Solidarity Consulting has several recommendations within, but is more focused on addressing and contextualizing racial injustices within policing. These recommendations are not focused on the police department itself, but what duties can be reassigned from the CCPD in a safe manner, and how it can be done efficiently.
The first recommendation is to “remove Police from responding to calls involving people in need of crisis intervention or emergency medical response.” This change is one of the primary ideas that has been talked about among council in the past, citing the ‘Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets’ (CAHOOTS) program ran by White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon as a model.
In a survey done as part of the Public Safety Review, 75% of respondents believe that if police funding is reallocated, the first focus should be on mental health. Additionally, 74% of respondents agree that sworn police officers should not be the primary respondents to people experiencing homelessness, and 71% agree that sworn staff do not need to respond to mental health calls.
To that end, the Solidarity Consulting report recommended that the city discontinue the use of the MET teams, shifting mental health services away from the police department entirely.
“There is the potential that 5150s are being instituted by a licensed clinician due to the BIPOC patient’s inability to de-escalate because of police presence,” the report reads.
“For race equity to be adequately addressed in policing, a non-law enforcement crisis response team is requisite for appropriate, racially-just, trauma-informed mental health assistance. The only way to relieve the stress of police presence during mental health related calls for BIPOC is to remove the police presence.”
To replace these MET teams, the report recommends the implementation of Mobile Crisis Intervention Services (MCIS), similar to the previously mentioned CAHOOTS program.
Instead of deploying officers along with medical professionals, MCIS programs like CAHOOTS involve deploying a mobile unit of medically trained individuals ranging from EMT, nurses, and health professionals equipped with mental health expertise to respond successfully to these calls.
“The mobile team is able to assess and respond to the emergency calls because they are equipped with technology that allows them to be on the same frequency as police,” the report explains.
“The staff of mobile crisis teams can provide medical care that a psychologist and a police response do not provide to human beings in distress.”
For more information and to see the two reports in full, view the meeting details of the Jan. 25 Culver City council meeting at culver-city.legistar.com/.