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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons
Demands of the New Police Chief and His Initial Response
In a letter to me, Police Chief Andy Mills has responded item-by-item to a series of concerns I raised in response to Steve Schnaar's letter skeptically regarding the SCPD endorsement of Martin Luther King celebration. While I remain skeptical of his answers--and they are pretty general--I reprint them so community members themselves can judge. I also include follow-up correspondence, which isn't too encouraging. While Mills temporarily instituted an incrementally saner policy around the Sleeping Ban and Lorenzo Park which needs to be acknowledged and commended, he has not responded yet with specifics around Public Records Act requests from earlier this month.
In mid-December, I sent Mills a letter requesting Calls for Service codes (so I could decipher a prior record of the kinds of calls received from San Lorenzo Park to determine the nature of the “problems” there).
I also requested the SCPD infraction citation and general arrest records for July 1- December 15 to determine if there has been a crackdown on homeless folks elsewhere in the City than San Lorenzo Park.
I suggested the SCPD include in its summary the race of the person cited and the length of time for the police-initiated “Stay Away” orders.
I praised Mills for limiting Sleeping Ban tickets at night and supporting the limited San Lorenzo campground.
I also suggested he respond to “long-standing concerns about police transparency and accountability”.
Perhaps in response to Steve Schnaar's public letter and a HUFF flyer outlining ongoing concerns about the SCPD, Mills responded.
My flyer is at https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2017/12/23/scpd_abuses_flyer_december_revision.pdf.
Steve's letter is at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/12/21/18805406.php.
Mills replied with an answer, relevant parts of which I reprint here. I added bracketed clarifications to indicate Mills' responses to the demands on the flyer that I put out. I'm not aware of any response he's made separately to Steve, who has not responded to my suggestion that he clarify if any of the flyer's concerns are his.
ANDY MILLS' RESPONSE TO THE HUFF FLYER
From: Andrew Mills
Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 12:51 PM
To: Robert; steveschnaar [at] gmail.com
Dear Robert, Steve et al
I am choosing to respond to this email because I genuinely believe the questions are from one seeking truth. You may disagree with some of my responses, but for the sake of brevity, and yet transparency, I’ll do my best.
I think it worthy of note, that to change things and improve fairness and justice, people must work together for a common purpose. This is the primary purpose of the MLK march, learning to work together during an undoubtedly fractured time in our nation. We/I welcome you to join us. This does not negate the multitudes of injustice, but build a bridge we can all walk over together.
[Norse]]: Open the books on use of tasers, batons, guns, pepper spray, choke holds, & pain compliance:
[Mills]: We do this already. I will further report out uses of force to the Chiefs Advisory Committee.
[Norse]: Cut back a bloated police budget for the largest department in the state for a city of 60,000.
[Mills]:You know this to be a fact? Even if it were true, with a University, center of commerce and County seat, not to mention a large tourist center demand incredible resources. A recent outside consulting firm stated the department must either increase staffing or reduce demand. The reality is the community must decide on what level of service they want for the price they must pay in terms of tax burden. I welcome that input.
[Norse}Demilitarize and refocus the SCPD from its flash mob “shock and awe” overkill tactic.
[Mills]: I know what is generally meant by military tactics, but not sure what you mean by flash mob or shock and awe. I to believe, generally, in the reduction of military tactics and equipment when possible. There are some dangerous people who present challenging situations. These incidents take special care and concern with equipment and tactics designed to allow everyone to walk away safe. We are currently giving advanced de-escalation training to all of our staff. This is above and beyond CIT and mental health training.
[Norse] Refuse Drug War money, military equipment, drone, face & license surveillance technology
[Mills]: We do use asset seizure money. It is a lawful by product of criminal activity. We do not use it however for this kind of equipment. I have given money to non-profits in the past to help kids avoid crime grow educationally. We will do so again in the future. There are strict limitations on what the money can be used for.
[Norse]: Require all SCPD officers to live in the city if not the local districts they police.
[Mills]: I would love to encourage this. It is not legally or practically possible, especially in a city where the cost of living is far beyond what we pay our officers. I would love to work toward corporate housing for new officers to get them to live in this city. Maybe you can help us find a way to do this.
[Norse]:End abuse, citations, stay-away's, & arrests of poor & homeless people for status crimes.
[Mills]: I think my record on this speaks for itself and have paid a political price for taking this stand. Those who are houseless need to help me too. Those who are stealing and creating disturbances, and clearly not all are, have got to stop. We are also desperately trying to get the county, with its $282 million budget, to get the resources to those who need it most. The city has not legislative or budgetary mandate to approach this difficult problem. Yet it has been the Manager's highest priority if you base it on time of commitment.
[Norse]: Focus on white collar crime; abuses against workers and tenants; rape, and real crimes
[Mills]: Believe me, our officers would love nothing more. They would rather handle investigations that make a difference.
[Norse]: Swift suspension & prosecution of criminal cops with clear histories of violence or abuse.
[Mills]: As you know I have an IA function with External Oversight of the IA function. That person reports to the City Manager and Council.
[Norse]:Speed up accessibility to withheld records to monitor class and racial profiling.
[Millls]:Through the CPRA we give what we can to the public upon request. We are also posting those often on our Transparency portal.
[Norse]: Establish regular meetings with minority, poor, youth, student, disabled, and worker groups to review and assess complaints independent of the SCPD’s behind-closed-doors evaluations.
[Mills]: There are several mechanisms for this.
[Norse]: Institute regular record keeping of all police stops involving detention or citation.
[Mills]: We do in various forms.
[Norse]: Hold open meetings with San Lorenzo Park campers as well as others living outside to determine wants, needs, and concerns about current police behavior.
[Mills]: I regularly walk SL park and speak to the homeless. We are also getting ready to open a place for the homeless to lawfully sleep and provide wrap around services.
[Norse]: Reveal clearly all agreements with other police agencies re: planned reaction to protests
[Mills]: There has been and continues to be an agreement with all other police agencies in the county to help one another as needed. Interestingly, I presented our plan to the community though the Chief’s Advisory Committee and by their accounts it was well thought out. My philosophy is to foster free speech, rather than suppress it. We will however be prepared for those who desire violence.
[Norse]: Reveal all surveillance devices that regularly spy on law-abiding locals without a warrant.
[Mills]: What about those devices that don’t regularly spy? We do not use the federal warrantless court as a local police agency, nor do we have spying equipment. We are kind of boring.
[Norse]: Demand Chief Andy Mills release all reports on Arlt slaying and ICE/DHS collusion.
[Mills] This cannot be done and you are well aware of it. There is a law suit pending on the Arlt shooting. ICE/DHS collaboration has stopped. I locked them out of the building and they no longer have a personal desk here. It is however exempt from disclosure.
[Norse]: End business-as-usual militarization: overkill policing tactics, ever-more invasive surveillance like “swoop and snoop” license plate readers and the “protest punisher” Bearcat.
[Mills]:The Bearcat cannot by policy be used on a protest. We do not have license plate readers, even though they are helpful in solving serious violent crime. Again, we serve the community and this is the standard I believe our community desires. So, we do not have them deployed on police vehicles or fixed positions. I hope this helps some.
I've written Mills twice since requesting a specific follow up on the first item regarding taser and other weapon use on suspects. It is holiday vacation time for some of the City Hall staff, but the outstanding question for me is whether he will respond with the specifics that show real transparency rather than smooth public relations management.
His response included no specifics or promises of specifics, but did say that he was very busy, "cannot respond to each of your inquiries in depth as there are dozens of people who contact me via Facebook, twitter, email etc seeking answers. I try to answer as many as I can, but there are limits" and asked me to "please try and limit my inquiries.
I followed up by pointing out that he heads a large well-funded department with the resources to provide documentation, if nothing else, as to such matters as citations issued, force used, etc.
It's not terribly encouraging, nor is the fact that only one person of the dozen or more whom I cc-ed, including Steve Schnaar chose to respond indicating any concern about these issues.