Council Ponders Police Reform

Council Ponders Police Reform

Ekene Ikeme

The City Council will hear the final report from the community-led Committee on Police Reform and Racial Equity at its Tuesday, March 16, meeting. The report will recommend changes to policing and methods to address systemic racism in Alameda.

The four-member committee, consisting of Alameda residents , were asked to focus on five sections for change: unbundling services currently delivered by the police department; review of laws that criminalize survival; review of police department policies and practices; systemic and community racism/anti-racism; and police department accountability and oversight.

Each section has about five to seven recommendations in the report. Recommendations ranged from adding an outside review board to oversee police procedures to requiring Alameda Police Department (APD) officers conduct mental health and de-escalation training on an annual or semi-annual basis. The committee also recommends the city continue its plan to hire the number of APD officers authorized in the city budget (88).

Not all recommendations were directed squarely at APD. The committee recommended city staff create a “Did You Know” social media campaign to direct residents away from emergency police reporting.

In addition, under the recommendations on systemic and community racism section, the committee proposes the City offer antiracism training for businesses, which would be led by Black people and other people of color.

The four-member steering committee consists of Alameda residents Christine Chilcott, Al Mance, Cheryl Taylor, and Jolene Wright. They were helped with formulating these recommendations by 60 subcommittee members. Each subcommittee member, who were
appointed by the four-person committee, were assigned to examine one of the five sections. They worked closely with the steering committee to create the recommendations for each section.

The steering committee also made an “overarching recommendation” without the input of the subcommittee. The committee recommended the city create and staff a new city department focused on police accountability and racial equity. In its report, the committee said the leader of this new department would report directly to City Manager Eric Levitt and work collaboratively with interim APD Chief Randy Fenn.

APD;s initial priorities would be to determine the feasibility of several of the key recommendations such as developing a protocol that will require city leaders to be notified in high profile police interactions. The Council does not have to approve each recommendation. The Council created the steering committee after the much-publicized police interaction with Mali Watkins last May

The Council authorized the committee on June 29, 2020. Levitt appointed the four members to the committee on Aug. 11, 2020. The subcommittee members were appointed the next month. The City released the committee’s draft recommendations on Jan. 20. The committee then took part in two public forums and community members also were asked to participate in an online survey. The committee members used the public’s input to create the final recommendations.

To read the final report, visit