Public Safety Reform and Innovation Webinar Series

Presented by Renne Public Law Group and the Institute for Local Government

INTRODUCTION

Public agencies across the nation are re-examining policing and public safety amidst public demands for reform, exploration of alternative approaches, and racial justice. Sponsored by Renne Public Law Group and the Institute for Local Government, this webinar series focuses on current reform and restructuring efforts and necessary steps to implement change. The program is geared toward city and county officials, managers, police leadership, and others interested in actionable steps toward safer and more equitable police practices and alternative public safety models.

Featuring presentations by policymakers, former police chiefs, experts in alternatives to traditional approaches, and community advocates, the series covers a variety of topics including oversight models, labor issues, best practices on use-of-force policies and crowd control, and alternative public safety approaches. Speakers provide real-world examples and cover practical approaches that advance multiple public policy goals in this challenging field.

Select a session below to view the recording.

The killing of George Floyd was the spark, but the fuel for the current outcry for police reform had been building for a long time. Most immediately were other shootings of unarmed people of color:  Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and Breonna Taylor, and others. But underlying these events was an entirely broken criminal justice system and disillusionment with policing due to discriminatory police practices, lack of diversity in the police ranks, and a culture that values loyalty to other officers over veracity. And even deeper in the fuel bed are economic inequities, structural racism, and the failed responses to homelessness, mental health problems, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Some say that “abolishing” or “defunding” the police is the only answer. After all, there have been many attempts to “reform the police”, but problems not only persist, but appear only to worsen. Some point to the unquestionable need to address “root causes”, including poverty and structural racism. But these problems run even deeper than the long-standing problems in policing and will require massive public expenditures.

The question now is how can we channel this most recent outrage toward positive changes in the paradigm of public safety and policing? Are there changes we can make now that, at very least, reduce the risk of harm due to police action and inaction? Many sessions in this webinar series will propose actions that can make a difference in the short and medium term. However, in this session, we seek to more fully understand the core problems in the current public safety model, and to place into context potential reforms and innovations.

Moderator:

  Erica Manuel – CEO and Executive Director, Institute for Local Government

Speakers:

  Sandra Celedon – Vice Chair, Fresno Commission on Police Reform

  Anand Subramanian – Managing Director, PolicyLink

  Brian Marvel – President, Peace Officers Research Association of California

View the Session Recording
In the past few years, policymakers across the state of California have grappled with revising standards for the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers and in 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 392, which modernized deadly force standards to provide that deadly force may only be used when necessary.  Effective January 1, 2020, AB 392 also required that officers use other techniques to address threats instead of using deadly force when safe to do so, encouraging law enforcement to train on and use de-escalation techniques like verbal persuasion and other crisis intervention methods.

Now, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, and amidst calls for reform and racial justice, policymakers across the state and around the country, including many at the local level, are once again contemplating what changes, if any, are needed to use-of-force policies. In addition, many public entities are exploring for the first time–or reevaluating–the best methods for police oversight, including civilian-led oversight panels and commissions. While some argue these commissions offer the best pathway to ensuring officer accountability for misconduct, others suggest such methods have significant limitations.

Please join us on Friday, March 19 for our panel discussion with Civil Rights Attorney John Burris, San Francisco Police Commissioner Petra DeJesus, and Boise Police Department Captain Spencer Fomby, as we discuss these issues and the road to reform ahead. We look forward to seeing you.

Moderator:

  Jamal Anderson – Senior Associate, Renne Public Law Group

Speakers:

John Burris – Civil Rights Attorney, Law Offices of John Burris

  Captain Spencer Fomby – Director, Boise Police Department Training, Education, and Development Division

  Petra DeJesus – San Francisco Police Commissioner

View the Session Recording

Recently, police unions have been singled out as the main opponents to reform efforts, as they have historically provided procedural protections to officers accused of wrongdoing. For the first time perhaps ever, segments of the public are scrutinizing the bargaining process and criticizing it for being opaque and elongated. Police unions, on the other hand, often are supportive of some reform efforts, but concerned about officer safety and the difficulty of implementing nebulous new policies.

In any event, any implementation of effective police reform will involve interaction with the police unions, an understanding of their concerns, and a detailed understanding of meet and confer obligations.

This session will focus on the scope of representation pertaining to police reform efforts, union concerns, critiques of police unions and the bargaining process itself, existing statutory impediments to reform (e.g., POBOR), critical MOU provisions and past practices that may be inconsistent with reform efforts and proposed reforms to create greater transparency in the bargaining process.

Moderators:

Arthur Hartinger  Arthur Hartinger – Founding Partner, Renne Public Law Group

Imran Dar headshot  Imran Dar – Associate, Renne Public Law Group

Speakers:

  LaWanna Preston – Director of Labor Relations, San Francisco Police Department

  Oliver Baines – President/CEO, Central Valley NMTC

  Rocky Lucia – Founding Principal, Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver

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It is often said that “culture eats policy for breakfast.” Meaningful and credible reform must involve changing the culture of policing in America, both at large and within individual departments. Often police reform discussions do not focus on culture, partly because changing culture is extraordinarily challenging. Yet, we must begin somewhere, with the understanding that cultural change cannot be achieved overnight.

This session will offer a range of approaches being recommended by experts in the field, including:

  • More robust early warning systems to identify officers who may be in need of intervention
  • Consistent disciplinary practices
  • Scenario-based training on community engagement, de-escalation, implicit bias
  • Steps to move policing from the “warrior” model to police officers as guardians and caregivers
  • Focus on multidisciplinary response to mental health and homelessness
  • Removing impediments to more effective recruitment of women and minority applicants for hiring and promotion

Moderator:

Jonathan Holtzman  Jonathan Holtzman – Founding Partner, Renne Public Law Group

Speakers:

  Chief Bisa French – Chief of Police, Richmond Police Department

  Dr. Ashley Brown Burns – CEO, Burns Innovation Group

  Dr. Theron Bowman – Former Chief of Police, Arlington Police Department

View the Session Recording

In 2020, on top of the global pandemic and record setting wildfires, California confronted a nationwide movement for police reform, set off by numerous killings of unarmed minorities by law enforcement. While similar encounters sparked action in years past, the events of 2020 compounded with an increasingly divisive political climate created a wave of pressure on public officials for real change. State lawmakers worked diligently to respond, but given the other matters confronting the State, only a handful of police reform measures were enacted. However, the appetite for reform persists in Sacramento. During a signing ceremony for a use-of-force measure, Governor Newsom pledged that “we are just getting started”—calling upon the Senate and Assembly to continue to advance more reform measures in 2021.

This webinar will provide a state legislative update—reviewing what measures were enacted in 2020 and what new state laws are being proposed in 2021. Moreover, our panelists will provide a deep dive into what cities and counties across California are doing to comply with, and in some cases, go beyond, state laws aimed at improving public safety and community relations. Participants are invited to engage with state officials on this issue in an exchange of ideas on how local governments and the legislature can make the most of the political will for police reform and produce meaningful and effective change.

Moderators:

Dane-Hutchings  Dane Hutchings – Managing Director of Government Affairs, Renne Public Policy Group

Imran Dar headshot  Imran Dar – Associate, Renne Public Law Group

Speakers:

 Senator Nancy Skinner – California State Senate

 David White – Deputy City Manager, City of Berkeley

 Nikki Moore – Counsel for the Committee on Public Safety, California State Assembly

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In many cities, advocates and stakeholders across the political spectrum are considering the most basic questions regarding public safety and policing: What functions are police departments meant to serve?  How are police officers currently being deployed?  What is the best approach for local government to address mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness – and what role should police departments have in those efforts?

This session will present a range of perspectives on these topics, including presentation of influential new approaches; relevant data on police functions, budgets, and public opinion; and discussion of myths and realities in this challenging policy arena.

Moderator:

 Ruth Bond – Partner, Renne Public Law Group

Speakers:

 David Douglass – Office Managing Partner, Sheppard Mullin

 Anne Larsen – Outreach Services Coordinator, Olympia Police Department

 Jorge X. Camacho – Policing, Law, and Policy Director, Yale Law School Justice Collaboratory

View the Session Recording