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Indybay Feature
The Questions Grow More Pressing
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Wednesday Jun 17th, 2020 1:14 PM
I've been persistently raising issues of police abuse with the SCPD. Most recently, I sent a letter to Chief Andy Mills with a variety of questions, following up on issues raised months (and often years) ago. He roplied. I responded to his reply a few days ago. So far no reply.
Mills' letter reiterates my questions and gives his answers (AM). I respond with further questions (RN).

From: Andrew Mills
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2020 11:06 AM
To: Robert Norse
Cc: City Council
Subject: RE: Specific Proposals to Reforms the SCPD

Robert, you being critical of SCPD? Say it’s not so!

It’s your right and I expect you and others to hold the police accountable.

Please see my answers below.

From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2020 9:58 AM
To: Andrew Mills
Cc: City Council
Subject: Re: Specific Proposals to Reforms the SCPD

3 1/2 years ago we corresponded regarding a flyer I had written and was distributing critical of the SCPD's policies and practices.

I intend to update that flyer in anticipation of upcoming protests regarding largely the same issues, plus some new ones arising from police behavior during the COVID-19"shelter-in-place" situation and your recent proposals increasing public restrictions in parks and elsewhere generally.

To be fair and accurate, I'm writing you to determine if there's been any improvement you can make me aware of regarding the following issues:

Is the SCPD willing to "open the books" on "non-lethal force" use, specificallyopening for public view police reports detailing the use of these devices with specifics to time, date, location, victim, officer, subsequent injury (if any),rationale, and any subsequent investigation?
AM: [We comply with all state law on this and the courts are the final judge as to the appropriateness of the use of this force. So the books are open. Some of what you ask for is a violation of law and policy in terms of the person has a right to privacy.]
RN:{The "right to privacy" has been improperly cited by arresting officers at a scene where many cops are confronting one person even when that person repeatedly asks what they're being arrested or detained for. If the victim of the "non-lethal force [or arrest, citation, or detention]" agrees, why have you continued to allow officers to refuse to say why people are being arrested? Will you release documentation previously withheld regarding the specific circumstances around the use of force including time, place, identity of person and officer, extent of injuries, amount of hospitalization, etc.? Will you agree to immediately make such records available and require your officers to respond accurately and promptly to community questions in real time where there is no issue of "officer safety" present? Do you acknowledge this is not being done currently and is a cause for mistrust and distrust of the SCPD?}

Is the SCPD prepared to make public the police budgets of the last few years and itemize how the funds were spent? If this has already been done, please provide links to where the public can find this information.
AM: [The links are on the city budget and you are welcomed to search and find them just like any other citizen.]
RN:{Are you prepared to advocate for a reduction of all police appropriation for Fiscal Year 2021 regarding mental health stops and homeless stops, transferring that funding to social service agencies who can more properly and more professionally do a job they, not the police, were trained for? Will you provide an accounting of the amount of money spent on all stops under the infraction concerns raised by Councilmember Drew Glover in the spring of 2019, which finally reached City Council in the fall, but are stillconcealed from the public?}

Will you make available records of the last six months, detailing incidents of where more than 4 police officers converged on a "crime scene"? HUFF has received reports of half a dozen or more police officers arriving at a peaceful encampment, Pacific Ave., or Ross parking lot scene involving one or two “suspects”.
AM: [No. We don't readily capture that information.]
RN:{Nonetheless are you willing to review the records to determine when such "shock and awe" "massive presence" policing has taken place? Or are you saying find out such information summaries are unavailable. If the latter, please make available all police reports not involving current investigations where more than two officers came to the scene for community scrutiny and we will do the work for you.}

How much "drug enforcement" money is the police receiving, say for the last three years?
AM: [Very Little, we don't have a drug enforcement team.]
RN: {How little is “Very Little”? How much time and money is put into “cooperative efforts” with county, state, and federal prohibition agents on this issue?}

What percentage of the SCPD budget goes to drug enforcement?
AM:[Very little there is no specialized part of the budget for this.
RN:{Please provide costs of how much time and money has been spent going aftersuspects for drug use, sales, possession. Or are you again claiming such records "donot exist"?}If you have any records regarding the number of police incidents involving drug enforcement, please provide them. Do you keep such records?
AM:[No.]
RN:{However you have the ability to determine the cost and time involved surely.}

Incidentally, HUFF has heard positive reports recently of police helping a few recovering addicts access services. Good work.
AM:[Thanks that is our preferred method to reduce drug use is by dealing withaddiction.]
RN: {Have you kept records of times police have provided such aid, or helped those outside to services, or fed them? I am not referring to giving out paper or verbal lists of allegedly accessible services which frequently have long or closed waiting lists, but to actual police physical assistance to disabled, hungry, sick, or otherwise vulnerable people such as recent police behavior giving out sandwiches.}

Please specify any military equipment, drone, face & license surveillance technology requested or received in the last three years by the SCPD.
AM:[None. We have used the Sheriff's drones on two occasions.]
RN:{And the use of the "Bearcat"?}
How many police officers actually live within Santa Cruz City?
AM:[Numerous officers live in and close to SC. I am not sure of the actual numbers.The last we checked there were about 60% within 20 minutes of SC.]
RN:{Since officers living in the area they have power over is an important issue formany follks, please specify how many officers actually live within the city limits and howmany in the County?}
How many within Santa Cruz County?
RN:{Surely you have these figures--make them public.}
Are you still asking City Council to pass your 7 point program, presented to various groups earlier this year?
AM:[Yes.]
RN: {Please estimate the number of officer hours and taxpayer dollars already spent on the victimless crimes whose categories you are asking to expand and how the predicted increase in both with your 7 points.}

Please provide specific records beginning in June 2019 through the present of allarrests made and citations given regarding violations of "closed area", being in a park after dark, violations of the COVID-19 orders of any kind, blocking the sidewalk, public nuisance, or unlawful encampment?
AM:[You have asked for this numerous times and we have given it to you each time.This takes an incredible amount of time each time you ask. If you want this information again, please submit a CPRA through the formal process.]
RN:{I'm not aware you or any other police official has honestly assessed and provided to the community and Council a careful and accurate assessment of the amount of time and money spent in "homeless policing" of non-violent victimless psuedo-crime. Am I wrong?}

In order to dampen the "intimidation factor" and assure the public that selective enforcement is not happening, will the SCPD begin to require its officers to document all stops where police officers direct (i.e. warn) members of the public (and most relevantly homeless people) to "move along"?
AM:[We will comply with the new state law requiring us to capture the perceived sex,race and reasons for the stops per the law.]
RN:{Please answer the question: will the department as stated, not the minimum that the law currently requires.}

How many "calls for service" are police responding to regarding complaints about vehicular residents since June 2019?
AM:[Scores!]I believe the Northern California ACLU has already requested this information from you. Is the SCPD regularly advising those complaining about vehicularresidents that false complaints are misdemeanors punishable by fine and jail?
AM:[They are valid complaints for the most part. Perception of what is and is not a crime is not always straight forward to most.]
RN:{On the basis of what statistics and reports are you stating that the "we don'twant that van parked in our neighborhood" calls are "valid complaints"?

}Is the SCPD (and in particular retired police vigilante Joe Haebe) been direct tostop chalking tires as part of the 72-hour enforcement policy, which violates the4th amendment according to the Michigan courts?
AM:[I don't respond to comments like that Robert. If you want serious answers be aserious person. Joe is not a vigilante but doing a difficult job. He has been kind, patient and long suffering. Calling him a vigilante]
RN:{Sorry, Andy, Haebe is regarded by numerous vehicular dwellers I've spoken to as a vigilante who has made it his mission to harass poor people in cars out of the neighborhoods. I repeat the question: have you directed your officers to (a) advise all callers wanting to use the72-hour law to "move long" vehicle dwellers that false complaints are misdemeanors? Have you advised your officers to stop using chalking or painting--a vandalistic device--as a basis for claiming violations of the 72-hour law?Just answer the questions directly, please.}


Will the police department resume reporting race and class stats (i.e. when a person has a 115 Coral St., transient, or homeless designation) on its citation/arrest summaries, as it has refused to do for the last three years? Will it allow access to these records to the general public as required by the PublicRecords Act?
AM:[How does one report class?]
RN:{By providing the addresses of those cited when requested to do so without elaborate delay and obstructive requirements.}
AM:[We have provided more information to you than any department in this region.]
RN:{Again, please answer the question directly and stop ducking: will you transfer the racial data indicated on citations into summaries released to the Council and public? At a time of angry concerns about racial profiling, this seems to me to be a very important step}


Please provide a record of all detentions from 1-1-19 to the present including grace and class stats, since your 2017 response below indicates you keep suchrecords.
AM:[We collect and report out race data.]
RN:Please provide a summary of citations indicating race for January 1 through December 31 of last year: THIS IS A PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST.
AM:[What class do you want?]
RN: {It's difficult to believe you aren't clear on this, the class of unhoused people isindicated by the words "transient", "115 Coral St." or (less certainly) a general P.O. Box.}
AM:[How do you define class.]
RN:{That's how.}
AM:[What class are you in?]
RN:{Just provide the data, please.}


My thanks for any police help (including sandwich distribution) helping homeless people in existing encampments and assistance to those in San Lorenzo Park. The great majority, of course, are in the Pogonip and elsewhere, much of the area within SCPD jurisdiction. Help there including trash pick-up's, portapotty access, wash station availability, electrical charging, and drinkable water is badly needed. Will the SCPD be helping to facilitate this aid?
AM:[Ask the County to. It is their job! Your efforts are misplaced. As intelligent and educated you are I am shocked it has taken you this long to understand it is the county's responsibility to provide for the homeless.]
RN:{Will you publicly support a transfer of funding from what is admittedly a huge police budget for a city our size to social services that actually serve these appropriate functions and run by the City?}


Please provide a listing of all white-collar crime citations and/or arrests made in2019, since you assure us this is a concern of yours.
AM:[File the proper request.]
RN:{How about an informal accounting to assure the Community that the departmentis actually engaged in such behavior?}


What particular mutual aid style arrangements has the SCPD made with other agencies, state, federal, county, and private regarding mutual assistance in the event of protest activity or broad citizen resistance (say, to COVID-19enforcement)? Your prior answer to this was vague.
AM:[There are no agreements.]
RN:{So the Oakland Expeditionary Force was just a fluke, a one-off, a random event? Please clarify under what authority you sent armed officers north, what controls they operated under, whether the SCPD is ready to do something similar when another department asks for assistance in "controlling protests".}


Regarding police access to surveillance devices that regularly record lawful community activity, you still have not clarified where these devices are located.Will you make this information publicly available (for instance, around City Hall,or at the SCPD HQ itself)?
AM:[We have only deployed LPR's to combat gang shootings. They have stopped for now.]
RN:{By surveillance devices, I’m speaking of any fixed devices placed or maintained with public funding surveying public property which video or audio the public engaged inlawful activities. Again, please don't duck the question, but specify where such devices are currently operational.}


Thanks for making some of the Sean Arlt documentation available on your Transparency Portal athttp://www.cityofsantacruz.com/government/city-departments/police/transparency-portal/sean-arlt-ois-investigation . Does this include all the Arlt video, audio, and witness report documentation?
AM:[Read it and let me know.]
RN:{How would I know what documentation the SCPD has but has not released?This is another example of an unresponsive answer. If you want to restore trust with the community , you must show transparency and accountability. To get respect, you must be respectworthy.}


Please clarify what prevents you from revealing the extent of ICE/SCPD disclosure as requested three years ago.
AM:[I have told you and others numerous times. We do NOT have a relationship with ICE. Period! It's really frustrating to answer the same questions repeatedly. Because in your mind there has to be a relationship via conspiracy theory does not make it true.]
RN:{You have not provided the documentation of prior intimate involvement with ICE under Chief Vogel as requested, nor have you disclosed correspondence between ICE and the SCPD regarding the abusive conduct of the department and ICE in the spring of 2017. Please do so.}


Accurate and timely information on these issues is most helpful in assuring that
truthful matter is distributed when concerns are raised about SCPD behavior and
policy.]


RN:{If your practices have changed since you made your responses, please indicate that so we can proceed forward. "Bending a knee" and leading a MLK parade means very little if you aren't being transparent and accountable in day-to-day police practices.}


RN New Question:{In the wake of current protests, demands on other cities, and responses from some police departments, will you commit yourself to a local response to demands being made nationally to fundamentally alter institutional brutality that has become business-as-usual for many departments?}


RN:{This would include a significant shifting of SCPD jurisdiction from dealing withemotional behavioral crises, poverty "crimes", and other areas to community agenciesbetter trained and equipped as well as less prone to violence.}


RN New Question:{Will you publicly support and lobby for full disclosure of SCPD disciplinary records of police officers both current, applying, and past—so that "bad apple" cops won't simply be shifted around from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (as happened for instance in the case of Officer David LaFaver some years back.}


RN New Question:{In the wake of the current protests, demands on other cities, and responses from some police departments, I would ask whether you will commit yourself to full disclosure of SCPD disciplinary records for excessive force complaints both for police applicants.} I'm sure you appreciate that.Hope to hear from you soon.
AM:[I am not going to play 1,000 questions and responses with you Robert. If you want a limited amount of time to discuss that is fine, but there are more people than you in this city of 66K who want and need help and information. We average 54 CPRAs per month. It is an enormous amount of work with very limited staff. COVID has not helped and potential furloughs will hurt us further.]


RN:{It would be easier for me and perhaps others to be more sympathetic to the needs and limitations of your department if you actually provided candid and full answers to the questions raised. That might be the first step towards a new beginning.}
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