Redwood City is Listening: An Update on Racial Equity, City Services and Policing

Updated on March 5, 2021

Over the last several months, the City has continued to make progress on policing matters of interest to the community and take steps in support of racial equity in Redwood City. We want to again thank the community for engaging and having candid and vulnerable conversations with us. While we can’t solve long-standing issues overnight, we are making positive change together. This Blog serves as a status update on both of these important initiatives to date, acknowledging that we have more work to do while we continue to listen, learn and lean-in.

What Progress has been made on Policing Matters?

In recent months, the Redwood City Police Department has continued to make progress on responding to the community’s desire for more data-driven transparency and opportunities for improvement in policing matters. Recent actions we have taken include:

· Revisions to policies related to de-escalation, use of force and other policing practices were completed through a comprehensive update to the Police Department Policy Manual and posted online.

· Body Worn Cameras were purchased, the associated policy was updated, and a community meeting was held to share current information and answer questions related to the Body Worn Camera program.

· The Police Department adapted during the pandemic and leveraged the increased participation of diverse young men and women in the Cadet Program to support community programs including a safely delivered holiday toy and book drive, COVID screening events at the Fair Oaks Community Center and regularly scheduled food and clothing distribution events for our homeless residents.

· An interdepartmental team is preparing data regarding the Police Department workforce and operations for release to the public on the City’s website beginning in March.

· The Police Department continues to hire and promote a diverse range of workforce members.

· The City Council approved a two-year agreement for a pilot program with San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and three other cities to form a mental health partnership crisis program. Clinician recruitment and community engagement on data collection and program measure development is in process. The program is expected to launch in April.

In What Ways has the City Elevated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Also, in recent months, the City has taken a number of actions to support and advance diversity, equity and inclusion, including:

· Briana Evans joined the City Manager’s Office as the City’s first Equity and Inclusion Officer.

· The Redwood City Public Library recognized United Against Hate Week with broadening conversations through the Human Library event.

· The City Council approved the Arts Commission’s work plan for the creation of a racial equity mural and the Arts Commission launched recruitment for the Racial Equity Steering Committee.

· The Public Works Services Department initiated design of an equity tool for public works and the integration of equity into the City’s Climate Adaptation Plan.

· The Redwood City Council celebrated Black History Month with a proclamation recognizing Black History Month and the Sequoia High School Black Student Union.

· The Redwood City Public Library celebrated Black History Month with a series of community events.

· The City joined with community partners to host Redwood City’s 11th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration live-streamed due to COVID-19.

· City staff are coordinating with the San Mateo County Vaccine Equity Team to ensure equitable distribution and information sharing regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

· The Redwood City Public Library applied to join a cohort of the Government Alliance on Race & Equity.

· The City’s Economic Development team required cannabis business applicants to include an equity plan as part of the retail storefront cannabis business permit evaluation and selection process.

· The City is partnering through Redwood City Together (formerly Redwood City 2020) with Stanford University to conduct a COVID-19 impact study.

· The City is offering cultural humility workshops to all volunteers who serve on City advisory boards, commissions and committees along with City Councilmembers. Two-thirds of appointees have registered or completed the workshop to date and more will be scheduled.

· City staff have met with the Community Inclusion Group, a coalition of community and professional organizations, to discuss concerns related to the Fire Department and explore opportunities for collaboration.

Creation of a City Council Equity and Social Justice Sub-Committee and a Police Advisory Committee

The creation of a City Council Equity and Social Justice Sub-Committee and a Police Advisory Committee will return to City Council for consideration at their meeting on Monday, March 8. These proposals are developed from the work completed by the City Council Ad Hoc Committee on Policing and City staff during 2020.

Council Sub-Committee on Equity and Social Justice

As proposed, the City Council Sub-Committee on Equity and Social Justice would consist of three members of the City Council, appointed by the Mayor to serve one-year terms.

What Would the Sub-Committee Do?

The Committee would help apply an equity lens to its policies and delivery of services. This would include:

· Support the City’s development and implementation of an Equity Plan;

· Review City policies to stimulate equitable treatment of all residents; and

· Promote the values of equity and social justice.

The Committee may also consider the creation of an Equity and Social Justice Commission.

If approved by the City Council on March 8, Mayor Howard would appoint Councilmembers Espinosa-Garnica, Reddy and Smith to this Committee.

Police Advisory Committee

As proposed, the Police Advisory Committee would consist of 11 community representatives, with one appointed by each Council Member and four appointed at-large by the City Council. Each member would serve two-year terms.

What Would the Committee Do?

The Committee would serve in an advisory capacity to the Chief of Police and would support partnership and transparency between the community and the Police Department. Ultimately, this Committee would support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and the Police Department’s goals to improve the quality of life; and reduce crime and the fear of crime. This may include:

· Reviewing policing policies, such as those related to use of force or body worn cameras

· Discussing community concerns related to crime and policing practices

· Reviewing related information, such as data regarding crime and policing interactions with the community

· Receiving updates on the mental health pilot program between San Mateo County and the cities of San Mateo, South San Francisco, Daly City and Redwood City to improve response to community members experiencing mental health crisis

· Receiving an annual report on personnel complaint processes

I am Interested in Serving on this Committee. How can I apply?

If approved by the City Council on March 8, a nomination and application process would open in later in March with the desire to appoint members in April. Initially, meetings are likely to be every other month to develop the Committee’s workplan, then quarterly. Before nominations or an application process may open, the City Council must first consider whether or not there is agreement to create a Police Advisory Committee.

Join the Conversation: City Council Meeting, March 8 at 6 pm

Please join us on Monday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom. Please note the earlier start time of 6 p.m.

To maximize time for live public comment, we encourage members of the public to provide comments by joining the City Council meeting via Zoom: For web, visit redwoodcity.zoom.us, select “Join” and enter Meeting ID 994 8182 5639. Use the Raise Hand feature to request to speak. You may rename your profile if you wish to remain anonymous. For dial-in comments, call *67 (669) 900–6833 (your phone number will appear on the live broadcast if *67 is not dialed prior to the phone number), enter Meeting 994 8182 5639 and press *9 to request to speak. All public comments are subject to a 3-minute time limit unless otherwise determined by the Mayor.

If you wish to submit written public comment, please send an email to the City Council at council@redwoodcity.org. Please indicate the corresponding agenda item # in the subject line of your email. Any public comment regarding agenda items that are received from the publication of the agenda through the meeting date will be made part of the meeting record, but will not be read during the Council meeting.

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