Policing Town Hall Q & A

Response to Town Hall “Chat” FAQ’s

From June 22, 2020

  • Will police be enforcing the governor’s order to wear masks in public?

The Police Department will be working with the City Manager’s Office on public outreach and education messaging.  The Police Department will assist with this messaging as needed.  Part of this messaging includes supporting the Governor’s order and encouraging businesses to require patrons wear masks.  We will not be taking criminal enforcement action.

  • Is there somewhere online where we can look at police officer demographics as well as past public incident reports?

Police Demographics are not posted online.  We can look at defining what demographic information to collect and post, seems like a simple thing to add.  “Public” reports are available upon request, but there are lots of confidentiality rules that apply.  Not confidentiality to protect the police, but to protect the privacy rights of the victims and other members of the public.  Also, active criminal investigations are not releasable.

  • What percentage of the city’s budget goes to the police department? How has this changed over the last 5 years?

For the 2019/2020 fiscal year the Police Department Budget was 23.69% ($11.2m) of the City’s General Fund Budget.

For the prior 4 years it was as follows:

FY 18/19:    24.88%

FY 17/18:    24.11%

FY 16/17:    25.04%

FY 15/16:    24.98%

  • What is a budget discussion workshop? Can we have more transparency on how the budget gets passed and how we can submit our thoughts?

The City budget is discussed and passed every year at regular City Council meetings.  August 25, 2020 is scheduled to be the discussion/presentation of the city budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

  • What does the School Resource Officer do and why do we have/need an armed Police Officer assigned to the school?

A common misconception is SLTPD SROs are in schools to discipline students. The reality is that SROs are not part of the school discipline process, which is handled solely by the school administrators.

When called upon to investigate a criminal matter, the SROs first option is rarely to arrest or cite the juvenile, but instead, engage in alternative solutions such as diversion. A critical ingredient to an effective diversion effort is strong team collaboration with school administrators, school counselors, mental health counselors, juvenile justice professionals, and parents to ensure that juveniles are not unnecessarily entered into the criminal justice system, thus reducing the potential “school-to-prison pipeline”, not expanding it.  SLTPD SRO’s focus on developing partnerships with all stakeholders in order to prevent and/or resolve juvenile criminal behavior without arrest or incarceration.  

Another critical component of the SRO is the trusting relationships they develop with students.  These relationships are critical to student victims feeling comfortable reporting crimes including sexual assaults and child abuse that may otherwise go unreported.

SROs are sworn California Peace Officers. Having a Peace Officer at the school provides the ancillary benefit of a rapid active shooter response should it ever be necessary.  Although not their main purpose, being prepared to immediately respond to a threat is important to ensure the safety of students, staff, and parents.