Rights and Wrongs: Updates From My Third Human Services Commission Meeting

Today was my third Human Services Commission meeting and though it was a light agenda, we made progress on some important issues. Here is the agenda and my initial thoughts on it.

San José Police Department Presentation

Check out the October 2017 Public Safety Report and Commission presentation on hiring to get a sense of what was covered. Below are my notes:

Speaker: Heather Randol, 20 year veteran of the San José Police Department (SJPD), acting captain for administration.

  • “We want to reflect the community we serve.”
  • SJPD has been working with the Civilian marketing firm for about a year to increase the sizes of academy classes — they are replenishing after some very small classes (7) and aiming to nudge the California Police Officer Standards and Training-set class-size cap of 65. The most recent class size was 57; historically, most have been 30-40 and 75-85% of recruits are Bay Area residents.
  • Recruiting tools:
    • One of SJPD’s major selling-points for recruits from her perspective is they have 50 specialized units.
    • They use ride-alongs as recruitment tools to help people see themselves as police officers.
    • They have 100 trained “satellite officers” and go to a ton of San José community events.
    • She tries to include women in the recruiting materials. Of those she showed us, women were 31% of pictured officers. In reality, 14% of officers are women while 50% of residents are women.
  • Recruiting gaps:
    • Women — they think women are applying because of physical fitness and so have started running fitness bootcamps for San José women.
    • Vietnamese-American people — they are attending community events but are missing this community.
    • The commissioners brought up the need to recruit more people who live with disabilities and asked good, tough questions about how officers are trained to work with people experiencing mental health issues, physical and intellectual disabilities. The speaker said that all SJPD officers will receive the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) trained but that it is not part of the academy yet, it’s part of the field training program post-academy.
    • I brought up the benefit of recruiting people with backgrounds in social work (based on a cool recruiting tactic I heard about from the King County Sherrif’s Office), early childhood education, given there are more people graduating with Masters in Social Work than there are positions requiring that credential and people with that training would be more likely to have the social skills necessary to work with people in crisis.
    • The commissioners asked whether internships were being offered to people in social work-focused undergraduate and graduate programs, to help people with those backgrounds consider law enforcement. There are some but I promised to connect the Lieutenant with some of the SJSU professors I know in case she doesn’t already have those relationships. I made one tonight and will make more introductions if there’s good follow-up.
  • The speaker said there is a conversation happening about developing a mobile mental health unit.
  • My fellow commissioners wanted to hear from the deputy chief of policy about changing the policy of who handles the property of people who are homeless during sweeps on city property and I will be asking for that to be added to the April agenda.

Rapid Responder Training on 4/4 and 4/16 

I will be attending the Rapid Responder Training on April 4th, 5-7pm in the Wing of City Hall. This is is part of building-out the Rapid Response Network to allow communities to respond when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is going after people in our neighborhoods. There is another training on April 16th, 5-7pm, location TBD. Sign-up through the city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Gun-Violence Focused Show at San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles from 4/22 – 7/15

Check-out more here. Given that I brought each of the commissions some of my favorite fabric from Nigeria as trip presents, I am a big fan of fabric as a form of communication and storytelling.

 

Women’s Bill of Rights Policy

This was the area I put the most work into, drafting a letter to council, op-ed, and letter to the editor on the Women’s Bill of Rights (our local implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)) asking city council to:

  1. Fund 3 FTEs through the City Manager’s budget to oversee and conduct the gender analysis of city operations (budget, workforce, and programs) and implementation of the Women’s Bill of Rights.
  2. Require city departments to undergo a gender analysis, evaluating gender equity in the entity’s operations including its budget allocations, delivery of direct and indirect services, and employment practices.
  3. Provide a budget of $300,000 to the City Manager’s office for gender analysis to be used as necessary, including on consultants, if their expertise is required.

It passed unanimously, though staff will be checking to see if they or a commissioner can submit the op-ed and letter to the editor. I look forward to hearing back from council what they think.

This was procedurally part of the last agenda item, but it ties into this issue so I’ll put it here. I moved that we form 2 ad hoc sub-committees to move forward the CEDAW work:

  1. One 6-month-long ad hoc sub-committee focused on ensuring the language in the ordinance includes people who are nonbinary, as the current language references the gender binary exclusively. I also reiterated my question from January for the City Attorney about whether the use of the terms “sex” and “gender” are being used interchangeably in the document and whether that impacted the legal meaning, adding-on a question about if the current language would prohibit city departments from collecting data on how services are provided to nonbinary people. I joined this committee along with Commission Baracio and Commissioner Holiday.
  2. One 6-month-long ad hoc sub-committee focused on selecting which city departments will do a gender analysis of their provision of city services first. I joined this committee along with Commission Baracio and Commissioner Maciel. Update: Here is a graphic of gender by department (note: it looks like nonbinary people aren’t being tracked in this graph, which is something I would like to fix):

Sita Stukes of our local Cities for CEDAW group attended and during public comment provided the following vital context:

  • Our local Cities for CEDAW group was really happy with the letter and the work the commission intends to do on CEDAW.
  • They believe the implementation of the Women’s Bill of Rights should focus on the following areas:
    1. Housing
    2. Violence against women
    3. Legal services
    4. Economic inequality
  • They believe SJPD should be one of the first departments to undergo gender analysis. Earlier in the meeting, staff let us know SJPD had requested to not go first since they are providing data on domestic violence. Ms Stukes brought up that the Police Officer’s Association has been pushing back, that there are no female captains in SJPD, that it is taking 4-6 months for SJPD to mark restraining orders as having been violated, indicating there are serious gender inequalities that might come to light as a result of the gender analysis.
  • They thought that Parks and Rec might also be a good initial department. As a note, those are the two largest departments by employees, according to a charge we were provided (I’ll link to it once it’s up).
  • San Francisco and Los Angeles both have good CEDAW implementations we can use as guides.
  • There is a new county task force for overseeing CEDAW that is currently only meeting twice a year.

Action: I’ll be coordinating with the sub-committees in the next week or so to draft a letter to council asking for them to update the language in the ordinance to include nonbinary people and reaching out to a ton of community groups to see which city departments we think most need to be evaluated first. Whether we can move forward with any evaluation at all without any resources will be a serious question for the next meeting.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) invitation

My motion passed unanimously! We’ll be hand-delivering our invitation for a spokesperson from ICE to come and attempt to explain their behavior in our city. Staff asked for time to check-in with their boss on what the protocol for inviting meeting to this invitation drop-off.

Action: Follow-up with staff next week to agree on a date to drop-off the letter of invitation, drop-off the letter, and continue to follow-up.

Upcoming Events

 

  • 4/4 and 4/16: Rapid Responder Training to help protect our communities against ICE.
  • 5/26: Children’s Rights Event at the Seven Trees Community Center (3590 Cas Dr, San Jose, CA 95111)
  • 10/25: Disability Rights Day with a movie festival (called ReelAbilities)

Items to propose for the next meeting:

  • Presentation: Uplift Family Services
  • Action: Following-up on the suggestions by Sharan Dhanoa (South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking) and Josue Fuentes (District Attorney’s Office of the County of Santa Clara) at the 2/15 commission meeting, draft a letter to City Council requesting additional funding for transitional housing for survivors of human trafficking be provided, as a lack of housing is stoping people from being able to leave exploitative in our city. Note: This is building-on the 2017 – 2018 Work Plan topic of Human Trafficking.
  • Action: Discuss Anthony King’s proposal that the city create an advisory board of people who receive services from the city (including, but not limited to, services for people with disabilities or people who are homeless) to advise the city on whether to grow or shrink relationships with agencies providing those services. Note: This is building-on the 2017 – 2018 Work Plan topic of Promote Disability Culture.

Summary

I continue to enjoy my time on the commission. We’ll be facing some real tests in the next month as we work to hold ICE accountable, to get the funding necessary to make the Women’s Bill of Rights more than a paper bill. We’ve also struggled with (ie started late because of) not having quorum, so I asked if staff could send a reminder about the meeting a week-prior and if we could have a buddy-system for attendance where pairs of us would be responsible for texting the other to make sure we can come.

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