To: Mayor Howard, Vice Mayor Masur, the City Council of Redwood City, and City Manager Diaz.
As a diverse and vibrant city, Redwood City has the opportunity to re-imagine what public safety and justice look like, and to defund oppressive institutions that continue to target communities of color to this day. We can create a city where everyone feels safe, especially when interacting with public servants. We believe that by meeting the human needs of our community, crime will go down. In responding to crises with compassion, rather than aggression, everyone in Redwood City will be able to thrive.
As the Redwood City Caucus of Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America, we demand an end to the unnecessary violence against and criminalization of our community at the hands of the police. It is time to (1) DESCOPE police duties, (2) DEFUND the police department budget, (3) REINVEST those funds into expanded public safety and community services, and (4) hold the police ACCOUNTABLE for their presence in our community.
1. Descope Police Duties
We demand that the City Council of Redwood City descope the police in the following ways in order to better meet the public safety needs of its residents:
Emergency Services: We demand that the City Council provide professionally trained, unarmed specialists to treat emergencies that involve mental health, homelessness, drug overdose, intoxication, domestic disputes, and sexual assault.
Non-emergency Services: We demand that the City Council end the enforcement of laws outlawing drug possession and sex work, and that the city transfer traffic-stop and parking enforcement duties to unarmed city employees.
Collaborations: We demand that the City Council end the police department’s ability to cooperate with ICE, to pursue or collaborate with other jurisdictions on civil asset forfeiture cases, and to end the SRO programs.
We further demand that the City Council ensure the Redwood City Police Department ensure the immediate discontinuation of programs and partnerships that infringe on the privacy and civil rights of our community members, including but not limited to the following:
- Permanently ending and eliminating RCPD drug and gang task forces.
- Discontinue the use of the CalGang system, which is emblematic of ineffective broken-windows policing and disproportionately targets black and brown youth in our communities. In June of this year, the LAPD announced a moratorium on the use of this system, setting a precedent for other cities in California to do the same.
- End the use of San Mateo County’s Clearview AI system, and any other facial recognition technology, or any other relationship that may exist between Clearview AI and the city of Redwood City.
- Sever any and all existing financial relationships between the Redwood City Police Officers’ Association and city officials, and prohibit such relationships for future city officials and candidates.
2. Defund the Police
Following the descoping of police duties, we demand the City Council of Redwood City reduce the FY 2020-21 police budget ($48,900,000) by 20% ($9,780,000) or more during the city’s October 2020 budget revision, and by 50% ($24,450,000) the following fiscal year (2021-22). We demand the reallocation of these funds to:
- Fund the non-police emergency response teams detailed in the previous section
- Invest in community programs as detailed in the following section
- Cover the projected $10M budget deficit
We further demand the termination of community programs including but not limited to PAL, and the transfer of their funds to programs in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, as well as immediate removal of SROs from Sequoia High School in order to end Redwood City’s school-to-prison pipeline. Furthermore, we demand a moratorium on any MOUs or other financial agreements between RCPD and SUHSD.
We demand that the city not supplement a descoped and defunded city police force with resources from the San Mateo County Sheriff department, but use this process as an opportunity to shift away from punitive systems entirely and toward a reimagined vision of public safety services.
Lastly, we demand that Redwood City halt all future increases to RCPD allocated headcount and the RCPD budget, beyond accounting for inflation, in perpetuity.
3. Reinvest in our Community
Redwood City must invest in services that address the needs of our community before they become acute problems, rather than continuing to invest in a punitive system that harms people when they are most in need. These investments should include, but not be limited to the following:
- House everyone, permanently. This includes:
- Funding housing from the general fund.
- Providing immediate shelter for all unhoused people in Redwood City, and creating navigation services to help them find permanent housing.
- Providing supportive services to those who need them to remain in housing.
- Continuing the work the city is already doing to ensure a sufficient supply of housing that a single person earning Redwood City’s minimum wage can afford without having to spend more than ⅓ of their pre-tax income on rent.
- Enacting city-wide rent control.
- Raise the minimum wage in Redwood City to $20/hour.
- COVID-19 response and relief: COVID-19 testing, PPE, and contact tracing for all Redwood City residents; vaccine distribution for all Redwood City residents (when available); and food, rental, and medical bill assistance for all those in Redwood City impacted economically by the pandemic.
- Work with San Mateo County to provide free mental health services.
- Expand park and library programs.
- Affordable access to professional and personal development classes.
- Create jobs programs for youth of color.
- Create a permanent committee focusing on addressing the needs of the community that cause crime, with the aim of preventing crime, rather than punishing it.
- Create a permanent committee with the power to investigate issues of racial discrimination within all branches of city government and city policy.
- Create a restorative justice program that diverts people away from the criminal justice system and into supportive services.
- Provide safe living situations and supportive services to all victims of violent crime.
- Partner with San Mateo County to provide a rape treatment center for victims of sexual assault, including pregnancy prevention and termination services as needed.
Where necessary, Redwood City should change the city charter, or otherwise work with the necessary governing bodies, like the county and state, to enable the city to take on these new socioeconomic support functions. Funding for these efforts should include, but not be limited to, diverting funding from punitive services such as policing to the above social services and other non-punitive critical community services.
4. Hold Police Accountable
To hold the police accountable, we demand the following information be made accessible to the public within the next 60 days, and moving forward, items 3-7 should be released at quarterly intervals:
- Confirmation that all 138 rape kits have been processed.
- Police complaints should be taken at a neutral city building.
- Anonymized* “Supplementary Crime Reports” documenting use of force by Redwood City Police for the past ten years, and the outcomes of resulting investigations.
- Anonymized* arrests and citation records, broken down by race, gender, and neighborhood for the past five years. We request the city advance provision of data mandated by AB 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, from the mandated timeline to January of 2021 at the latest.
- The release of all complaints and investigations against officers (anonymized) for the past ten years and the result of investigations.
- A record of the percentages of all 911 calls (not just crimes), broken down by type of call, the city service that responded, and whether a crime report was generated.
- The full, itemized budget and expenditures for the police department.
*Anonymity may apply to all parties, including officers.
We urge you to implement these changes immediately, as Redwood City residents are suffering under the current punitive systems the city has continued to bolster over the past several years.
Our group is eager to help support you in these changes, and should you find you need extra hands to make phone calls, coordinate meetings, or assist in any way, we are ready and willing to volunteer.