CPCC Reform Public Listening Sessions Scheduled

By: 
Stephen Downing

On the morning of Sept. 8 an email was sent by the manager of the Citizen Police Complaint Commission (CPCC), Patrick Weithers, to an undisclosed list of “stakeholders” thanking them for participating in the “CPCC Evaluation Process” as well as offering his appreciation for “any input you gave to Polis-Change Integration.”

In that email Weithers announced that the public “listening sessions” designed as part of the evaluation by the research contractors will be conducted on Sept. 16 via Zoom and Sept. 23, in person at the Browning High School: “Both listening sessions to begin at 6:30 p.m. and will end at 8 p.m.”

In the email Weithers attached flyers to announce the public listening sessions and told the stakeholders to, “Please feel free to share them on Social Media and send them to whoever you think may be interested in attending either of the sessions.”

Some Background

The Beachcomber published an article on Aug. 21 describing the contract, mission and scope of the Polis-Change project under the heading, “Question raised: Is Positive Change to Civilian Oversight and Transparency Possible? It can be read here: https://beachcomber.news/content/cpcc-holds-second-investigation-review-super-spreader-event

According to public documents, the City Council provided “policy direction and funding to conduct an external evaluation of the CPCC to ensure optimal alignment with community needs and expectations,” based upon an initial report from the Racial Equity and Reconciliation Initiative.

As a result of funding approved by the council, the city executed a $150,000 purchase agreement with Polis Solutions of Seattle, Wash. – a professional consulting firm – on May 20 to “Evaluate Services for Citizen Police Complaints.”

The contract-defined scope of the project is to: “Optimize, to the fullest extent practicable, CPCC operations in accordance with current City Charter provisions and prevailing laws, ordinances and regulations.”

Because this language did not provide for recommended changes to CPCC operations that could require changes to the City Charter, the Beachcomber obtained an assurance from the city manager’s office that, “Polis is not prohibited by contract to recommend an oversight model that would require changes to the City Charter.

In that this writer was interviewed (as a stakeholder?) by the Polis researcher and was told that public listening sessions would be conducted in August, a follow-up question was asked in late August as to when the sessions were to be scheduled. She responded: “They were just recently pushed to late September due to a number of factors.”

The Beachcomber learned of the Weither’s listening session email announcement on the afternoon of Sept. 8 as a result of receiving copies from Carlos Ovalle, executive director of People of Long Beach (and recently announced candidate for Council District7), and Ian Patton, executive director, Long Beach Reform Coalition. Those two community leaders originally filed a complaint with the CPCC alleging misconduct by the chief of police for ordering a super spreader event involving 300 unmasked police officers in the convention center at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patton said, “The biggest issue is that nobody knows about the listening sessions, including all those people from Long Beach who demonstrated in the wake of the George Floyd incident.”

Patton told the Beachcomber that he immediately complained to Weithers via email about the time allotted for the public testimony compared to “the long history of abuse and lack of true police oversight by the CPCC.” He said, “They are only allotting three hours for the community to cover decades.”

Patton also complained that the listening sessions were scheduled to begin within eight days of Weithers email announcement, complaining that, “the first is in less than a week and I see no billboards, no blast emails from the mayor, no announcements on the sides of buses, no ads in the newspapers or digital media. Is the public going to be made to understand that this is their one opportunity to participate in significant police oversight reform, the first example of such in 30 years in Long Beach?”

Ovalle expressed even greater concern over the timing and locations of the scheduled listening sessions. He said, “The two listening sessions are pretty much meaningless in the way they are set up, once again demonstrating that the city cares nothing about issues of equity.”

Ovalle said he too wrote a reply to Weithers and informed him that those who would most benefit by improved or completely revamped police oversight – and could offer the most experience reform suggestions – are those who live on the western side of Long Beach in mostly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

He said, “But yet the Zoom session will most likely pass them by because of access to technology and the only physical location is in a ZIP code “where 78% of the population is white, nearly three times the city average.”

In his email announcement, Weithers provided the “stakeholders” with a link: https://www.longbeach.gov/citymanager/cpcc/evaluation/

to the city website that provides an overview of the CPCC evaluation and links for the public to sign up for both the “virtual” session scheduled for Sept. 16 and the in-person session scheduled for Sept. 23.

A call was placed to Weithers to learn the identity and the number of stakeholders to whom the email was sent. He replied that the email was sent to 30 stakeholders and said that the stakeholders included all of the individuals who were interviewed by the Polis researchers. (This writer was interviewed by the Polis researchers and did not receive the email announcement)

Weithers declined to identify the stakeholders.

In separate reply emails to Ovalle and Patton, Weither’s did copy this writer.

To Ovalle he wrote: “Thank you very much for your email. I absolutely hear you and this is something that I thought about as well. But at the same time, I had to think about COVID and a venue that allotted enough space for social distancing and break out groups if needed. This was one of the only venues available of that size. Additionally, logistically this venue has a large amount of parking and can hold up to 300 people if need be. I looked in the areas you mentioned and the venues would have presented a challenge with parking and social distancing. Unfortunately, with everything going on, I have to look at the full scope of everything, including COVID safety.

To Patton he wrote: “Polis-Change Integration will be leading and conducting these listening sessions. Regarding the time allotted, Polis-Change Integration and city staff wanted to have the listening sessions at a time where a good number of people can attend (i.e. after work, etc.) and wanted to be mindful of people’s personal time as well, as to not keep people there all night. I’m definitely sure people will be given enough time to give their input, and if we may have to stay a bit longer then so be it. I am more than willing to stay until 12 a.m. and gather input from people after the listening session is over. I absolutely want to make sure everyone that wants to speak gets a chance to speak.

 “Regarding publication, a memorandum has been sent to council (https://www.longbeach.gov/globalassets/city-manager/media-library/documents/memos-to-the-mayor-tabbed-file-list-folders/2021/citizen-police-complaint-commission--cpcc--community-listening-sessions) and we will be posting information about the listening sessions on all city social media platforms. I have requested that it be posted on Nextdoor and the city’s homepage as well. There will also be city newsletters going out with listening session information.”

This is a developing story. Updates will be provided if the city adjusts or expands upon the scheduled listening sessions for all Long Beach residents.

Stephen Downing is a Long Beach resident and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

Stephen.Beachcomber@gmail.com

 

 

 

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absolute power, corrupts absolutely! LBC and its PD is a criminal origination. SMH

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