Public agencies across the nation are re-examining policing and public safety amidst public demands for reform, restructuring and racial and economic justice. Recognizing this urgent need, RPLG has formed a multi-disciplinary Public Safety Reform and Innovations Group to serve as a resource for public agencies grappling with how best to holistically and practically achieve equity for their communities.
The RPLG team brings deep knowledge and a wide range of experience to agencies looking to convert the public will for reform into concrete changes that can be practically implemented. On matters specifically related to police reform, our team is informed by our successful history negotiating with police unions on behalf of public agencies. We bring to bear our extensive experience in investigations, personnel issues, legislation, public finance, administrative restructuring, civil service systems and local government law. We also offer non-attorney policy expertise through our consulting group, RPLG.Solutions, and lobbying services at the state level through our policy arm, Renne Public Policy Group.
Our Public Safety Reform and Innovations team is prepared to provide a range of services, including:
- Drafting charter amendments, ballot measures, ordinances, resolutions and other legislative efforts.
- Administration of and legal advice related to reform and reconciliation commissions.
- Assisting with internal affairs investigations or auditing internal investigations.
- Designing civilian oversight mechanisms, uniquely built for each community, to meet the competing needs of speed, transparency and fairness.
- Helping agencies navigate rapidly changing state laws and implementing local rules to effectuate the goals of these laws.
- Drafting use of force policies and related legal advice (including standards related to de-escalation and proportionality).
- Working with staff and gathering input from key members of the community to generate recommendations regarding discipline systems, police culture, qualified immunity and other aspects of police department operations.
- Reviewing the language of job posts in light of recent legal changes.
- Legal advice related to technologies associated with public safety.
RPLG has been asked to revise use-of-force policies, facilitate blue-ribbon committees, develop oversight models, negotiate and defend changes in policies and work with public and community stakeholders to develop innovative approaches in this rapidly changing field. Our most recent public safety reform work includes:
- RPLG helped craft and negotiate Measure II, the police reform measure on the ballot in the City of Berkeley in November 2020, which passed with over 80 percent of the vote.
- Founding Partner Jon Holtzman served as special counsel to the Fresno Commission on Police Reform in 2020, helping produce a 292-page report with recommendations for policy changes.
- Partner Julian Gross is providing legal and technical support to the City of Berkeley’s “Police Re-Imagining” process.
OUR TEAM’S EXPERIENCE
- Partner Ruth Bond represented San Francisco’s Fire and Police departments in employment matters as a San Francisco Deputy City Attorney for more than a decade.
- Partner Julian Gross has extensive experience on police and public safety reform issues, having advised reform advocates while employed by PolicyLink, a national non-profit advocacy organization devoted to racial and economic equity.
- RPLG Chair Louise Renne served as President of the San Francisco Police Commission and is actively involved in numerous matters on behalf of community-based organizations that represent the City’s Black residents.
- Founding Partner Art Hartinger is an expert in police disciplinary matters.
- Founding Partner Jon Holtzman is a veteran of innumerable negotiations with police unions over wages, hours and departmental policies, including numerous police reform initiatives.
- Partner Linda Ross served as general counsel to the San Francisco Police Department during her time in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.
- Former Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd, a firm senior consultant, is available to help manage and structure police reform efforts.
- Grant Writer Jake Whitaker began his career with the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, working to bring in millions of dollars in state and federal funding to support collaborative restorative and rehabilitative reform efforts that included partnerships with the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office, correctional officers and social services providers.
For more information on how RPLG can help your agency improve public safety and navigate police reform, contact Jon Holtzman (JHoltzman@publiclawgroup.com).