Fostering Understanding in Our Community

Part 2: Black Lives Matter: How to be an Ally - A local public safety perspective


 

 

 Moderator

Fanshen Cox - An award-winning playwright, actor, producer, and educator, and moderator. 

Panelists

Deanna Cantrell - SLO Chief of Police, Lan George - Arroyo Grande City Council, Dan Dow - SLO County District Attorney, Vivien Devaney-Frice - Restorative Partners.

 

WATCH: Part 2 

 

Transcription

Cornel Morton:

Good evening. My name is Cornel Morton. I serve as president of the diversity coalition, San Luis Obispo County. I'm very pleased to welcome you to this conversation sponsored by the Diversity Coalition's board. I welcome you on their behalf as well. We're pleased to offer a second dialogue, a dialogue in a series devoted to fostering understanding in our community, Black Lives Matter, How To Be an Ally, A Public Safety Perspective. For those of you very quickly, who are unfamiliar with the Coalition. Very briefly, the Coalition was formed following a cross burning in a Black family's yard in Arroyo Grande back in 2011, actually it was March, 2011. To their credit, a good number of citizens came together, a cross section of citizens came together to support that family. As it was determined, it was in fact a hate crime. The individuals were prosecuted, they were jailed, and that family received the support of members of our community at a very, very important time in their lives obviously.

            The folks who came together decided that it was important to continue the work, the work of providing advocacy, support, promoting social justice. And so out of that, I'll call it organic citizen action grew the Diversity Coalition. We continue our work to this day. The coalition is deeply involved in working with local schools, providing inservice education for teachers, providing opportunities for students in middle and high schools especially to hear from people we invite to the County to deliver talks and to lead workshops. And so we've been very much engaged with the goal of education and the goal of providing opportunities for people across the County to learn more about diversity.

            We have a number of resources available, and you can find many of those on our website. We're also engaged in helping individuals understand how and what ways they can make a difference in the community. So please, if you're interested in joining the Coalition, we would encourage you to do that. And there are a number of opportunities for you to volunteer with us. I want to mention that the third program in this series, which is scheduled for August 26, will address issues related to the faith community. And so the same theme, fostering understanding in our community, Black Lives Matter, How To Be an Ally, A Faith Community Perspective. And again, that program is planned for August 26 beginning at 6:00 PM.

            I'd now like to very quickly move to introduce our panel and our moderator for tonight. And I'm going to start with Chief Cantrell, Deanna Cantrell. Deanna started with the San Luis Obispo, California Police Department as the Chief of Police in 2016 after serving for over 21 years with the Mesa, Arizona Police Department. Deanna believes the police exists to reduce harm in our communities. Because of that, she has developed a deep rooted history of engagement with the community and improving employee wellness, both in Mesa and in San Luis Obispo. She and her team recently received an award from the Anti-Defamation League for combating hate.

            In Mesa, Deanna served on the human rights forum as the Muslim Police Advisory Liaison, as the LGBTQ Liaison, on the NAACP Legal Redress Committee and was the chair of the Arizona Women's Initiative Network. She is currently a co-chair of the California Women Leaders in Law Enforcement, serves on several local boards, as well as internationally on the Professional Standards, Ethics and Image Committee with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and as the California Region 12 representative for the California Police Chiefs Association. Deanna was also selected in 2018 as the 24th District California Congressional Woman of the Year.

            Deanna holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters of Administration from Northern Arizona University. She has an Executive Development Certificate from California Post and is a graduate of Northwestern University Police Staff and Command School where she is also an adjunct faculty member. Welcome, Deanna.

Deanna Cantrell:

Thank you, Cornel.

Cornel Morton:

I'd now like to introduce Lan George. Lan is a longtime resident of a Arroyo Grande, moving to the central coast in 1992. A Cal-Poly graduate, Lan is a member of the Arroyo Grande City Council and the CEO president of Reach Strong Media, Incorporated, a full-service, digital marketing agency. Lan is the co-creator and producer of The Better with Sister Podcast, a lifestyle and personal development podcast from the perspective of sisters. The brand engages with women from all over the nation, promoting the idea of sisterhood and empowerment through relationships and shared experiences. She recently launched BWS Creations, a custom sign and gift company specializing in laser engraved and cut products. Her business model has always included a portion of proceeds from every purchase goes to a charitable organization serving either to help the underprivileged or to preserve and improve the environment for future generations.

            In the height of the first wave of the COVID pandemic, her company produced and distributed 7,000 mask hooks to healthcare and frontline workers across the US at no charge. Most importantly, Lan is a wife and mother of three. Being a first generation immigrant and having raised three children of mixed race in Arroyo Grande, she understands the importance of diverse and accepting communities. Welcome, Lan.

            Now I'd like to introduce Dan Dow. Dan Dow was first elected District Attorney of San Luis Obispo County on June 3rd, 2014 and assumed office on November 7, 2014. He was reelected to a second term on June 5th, 2018. As a career prosecutor, Dan has focused on sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence cases throughout his career, Dan has dedicated himself to protecting victims, ensuring justice, and reducing crime in our community. He was instrumental in the creation of the San Luis Obispo County Veterans Treatment Court in 2013. He formed the SLO County Anti Human Trafficking Task Force in 2014, created the Misdemeanor Diversion Program in 2015 and established the Central Coast Cyber Forensic Lab in 2017.

            Dan has served in the US Army since 1989, and currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel military judge in the California Army National Guard. He has been deployed overseas twice since 9/11, to Iraq in 2010 under Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and to Kosovo in 2003, under Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Dan attended Santa Clara University School of Law, earning his Juris Doctorate in California State University Hayward, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Pre Law. Dan and his wife, Wendy have been married for over 28 years and have two children. Welcome, Dan.

            Now I'd like to introduce Vivien Devaney-Frice. Vivian is the Director of the Custody and Reentry programs at Restorative Partners, a nonprofit agency in SLO County. The goal of Restorative Partners' work is to reduce violence and lower recidivism by providing a continuum of care from incarceration through reincorporation into the community. In this capacity, Vivien oversees Restorative Partners programming at the County Jail and Juvenile Hall, as well as Restorative Partners reentry, mentorship and vocational training programs. Vivien is a certified crisis counselor and cognitive behavior change and restorative conference facilitator. Having worked with hundreds of individuals in custody and in reentry, she believes strongly in restorative practices and the power of relationships to bring about transformation. Welcome, Vivien.

            Our moderator for tonight, Fanshen Cox, is an award winning playwright, actor, producer, and educator. Fanshen Cox recently completed touring her one woman show titled One Drop of Love. Fanshen is also a producer and development executive at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Pearl Street Films. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, and holds a BA in Spanish and Education, an MA in TESOL and an MFA in TV, Film and Theater. She has been honored with distinguished alumni awards from CSULA and from Teacher's College Columbia University. She serves on the board of the Annenberg Inclusion initiative and on the Kennedy Center's Turnaround Arts Equity Advisory Committee. Fanshen is also a coauthor of The Inclusion Rider, which was announced at the 2018 Oscar awards by Francis McDermott. Welcome, Fanshen.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you so much, Cornel.

Cornel Morton:

I'm going to finish off with just a quick comment. I just want to reiterate how important it is that we have this conversation. I know that you all agree. This is an opportunity for continued dialogue. There are a number of conversations in our County. They're all very important, critically important especially, and we want to be certain that we, I hope, set the stage for what I'll call a deliberative dialogue. Deliberative dialogue, which is about listening to one another, about respecting one another, about understanding how important it is that we continue to acknowledge that we each come at these issues based on our own experiences and based on different perspectives. And so with that in mind, we're going to have a great evening. We're going to hear from a great group of panelists and Fanshen is an extraordinary moderator as I've learned over the course of the last few weeks. And I'm excited to have her with us as well. Thank you all for being here and I'll turn it over to Fanshen. Thank you.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you so much, Cornel. Thank you SLO community for having me back. I feel a little bit adopted by the community and I really appreciate it. It's great to know that a community is coming together to work on these issues. We also already have lots of questions to answer and we will make sure we take the time to get to these questions and these important answers. And there's going to be some discomfort because in order to have these conversations and really to move things forward, there's going to be discomfort, but we thank you all for putting in the time and effort. I like to begin these with some definitions, some words or concepts that you might hear during the evening, so we can kind of get those out of the way. Forgive me, because I may just tell you to Google some things in the interest of time and also the fact that they are pretty available to you, but I would just want to go over a couple of concepts that you probably will be hearing about and our panelists will certainly address along the way.

            And so, first of all, one of my biggest pieces of advice that I also take for myself when I think about how to be an ally is to understand historical context. And so there are two things that I think we really need to think about tonight. One of them is the history of modern day policing in the United States. And that part of that history comes out of slave patrols in the South. And we cannot ignore the fact that that is a part of how policing is happening today. So these vigilante patrols that got together in order to capture sometimes freed slaves and other times enslaved peoples is a part of our modern day policing. So that's something to keep in mind and Google more on it, but there's lots of references and resources on that historical context.

            Another concept that's really important when having these conversations is systemic racism and understanding that racism, there's interpersonal racism. Many of us who are racially marginalized, Black and Brown people deal with interpersonal racism all day, every day in our own relationships with colleagues. And then there's also systemic racism. That's really what we're talking about in a lot of these conversations. And I think one of the historical examples of systemic racism that really brings this idea home are two Supreme Court cases from the 1920s. So Ozawa and Thind. And I think Kendra is going to write those two names up in the chat for you. Ozawa and Thind versus the Supreme Court of the United States. These two cases took place within three months of each other in the 1920s.

            At that time, in order to become a naturalized citizen in the United States, you had to be white. And that was in the court papers, white or an African descendant. And we all know our history around why they had to maintain that after they had brought Africans here at to enslave Africans. But you had to prove that you were white in order to become naturalized. Ozawa was a Japanese man born in Japan, but then came to the United States for college, worked hard here. Didn't allow his family to speak English, did everything he could to become a naturalized citizen. Loved the United States, wanted to be an American citizen. However, at that time, the Supreme Court said that science does not show that someone born in his region in Japan was white. And therefore they denied him his citizenship, that he could not be considered Caucasian or white, and therefore he could not have his citizenship. He even said as part of his defense that he never goes out in the sun and he stays, even keeps his skin wide in order.

            And then literally three months later and a man born in India, but then living in the United States for a long time who was very wealthy. And even within his caste system in India, he could be considered white because they have a more of a class system. And so he was watching the Ozawa Case very carefully, because he knew that he was born in a region that the scientists considered Caucasian as well. So he's pretty excited about seeing Ozawa's outcome because he says, "I've got this." He also fought in the World War One. This man knew, he was a wealthy businessman. He knew that he would be considered white. He had the science behind him.

            And again, three months later, the Supreme Court said, "No, actually science is not reliable. And instead we're going to rely on the common man. And the common man knows," and of course by common man, they were referring to white, wealthy men. "The common man knows that you are not white." This is an example of systemic racism that affects all of us. So if you think about, for example, who's allowed in the country or even who's called an immigrant at this time in this country, is all based on these judicial questions that were made long, long ago, that actually never were really proven. No court case in the history of all court cases in the United States was there ever any proof of what white was. There was only proof, what they said was proof of what white isn't. So it's really important to remember that all of the ways that we are affected by race and racism have to do with these larger systems and institutions. They're not necessarily our interpersonal relationships.

            We also know that the numbers of people who identify as mixed race or multiracial in this country are rising every year, but we can't seem to love ourselves or love our way out of racism. That's because there are these larger systems in place.

            So with that in mind, I will share one more thing, which I think it's important to clarify. I'm assuming we may talk about the phrase defund to the police or the hashtag or the meme. And we should clarify that this is not talking about taking away all the money from policing. It is talking about taking away the over funding of police and using those funds towards things like mental health practitioners, social workers, having other people arrive on scenes where policing may not be the right or appropriate approach to deal with the situation at hand. And instead that might need to be some other kind of professional. It is also taking that funding and putting them directly into community programs so that we are more preventative about folks that we say are committing crimes, but instead they're having resources, financial resources earlier, so that those crimes do not end up happening.

            So those are some important concepts. I'm assuming we will talk about all of those and I'm sorry to speak so quickly, but our panels are so amazing. We're going to get to our panelists now. And the last thing I'll say very quickly as all of our panelists, we've asked to make sure towards the end of their opening statements, and we'll do this in the Q and A as well, is to think about what are some actual specific action items that you personally who are listening can take immediately after this call or within the week, and then within the months, and within the years, what are actions you can take to dismantle systemic racism and to be an ally. Okay.

            So let's begin with Deanna Cantrell, your opening statement, please.

Deanna Cantrell:

Okay. Can you hear me? Thank you, Fanshen. So the opening statement was about being an ally and how am I an ally in public safety and in policing. And some people might look at that as mutually exclusive, being an ally and being in policing. But I certainly don't. And I do not think that those two things are mutually exclusive at all. So ally is a word that's used all the time. Sometimes there's an assumed common meaning. So I'm just going to start with telling you what I think it is. I think an ally is a trusted partner of significance, not just a trusted partner, but a significant trusted partner. And what that means to me in terms of social justice and racial justice is that I am your trusted partner. I'm a trusted partner to everyone in the community, especially those that are underrepresented or marginalized.

            And let me just say things that some people don't know about me, some of you that are on this are going to know this. And some people do not know that I grew up very poor. I grew up very underprivileged in a household with really significant violence. And it gives me a really different perspective about policing, because the police were at my house a significant amount when I was young. And I did not have a good experience as a young child with the police. And then even as a teenager, I didn't have a good experience. And so I've been out in the LGBTQ community for a long time. I've experienced hate. I've been the victim of hate crimes, and I've been the victim of unjust treatment from the police when I was a police officer, but I was not on duty. And I had an experience of a hate crime in another city, and I was not treated well by the police.

            And so it does give me a little bit of a different perspective. And I didn't like the police growing up. And I was going to be an art teacher, some people know that, which is kind of strange. But I never ever thought I would be a police officer. And then I had one positive interaction with a police officer that changed my whole trajectory. And so here I am today, and I love policing for everything that it can be. And I do believe that we exist to make people's lives better. I believe that we exist to reduce harm in our communities and not create harm. And that's hard to do. It is so complex. I think we reduce harm in a lot of different ways, sometimes through enforcement, sometimes through education, through youth programs and developing youth and partnerships and social services for families and restorative justice and all kinds of different ways that the police are involved in reducing harm in our communities.

            And I became a police leader, a police chief, because it's super easy. I'm kidding. I hope everybody knows that that's totally a joke. Because it's not easy. I became a police leader because we need good police leaders. We need good, progressive police leaders that are willing to put in the very, very hard work of change, of changing a very long culture. And my history proves that I am very accessible. I am absolutely accessible to everyone. And in particular marginalized communities. I listen to people. I understand different perspectives. I try to be as empathetic and understanding of all perspectives as I can. I've been a member of the NAACP. I was on a Muslim police advisory board, as some of that was brought up in my introduction. And I started something when I came to San Luis Obispo called P.E.A.C.E and PACT. PACT is Policing Community Together. And the purpose of that was because marginalized communities in San Louis Obispo did not have a voice within the police department when I got here. And that was just not acceptable. And having those relationships now, our marginalized communities have taught us-

Deanna Cantrell:

Now, our marginalized communities have taught us all kinds of things, and we listen to the struggles that they're having, what's going on in their communities and how we can be a partner, a significant partner to them, an ally to them from a policing perspective. And I think if there are members from PACT here tonight, they would tell you that that work has been hard and it's been worth it.

            It's been absolutely a hundred percent worth it, we started PEACE which stands for Policing Education and Community Engagement. And that was about, policing is misunderstood. People watch TV and they think they understand policing and it is so incredibly complex and misunderstood in part because of us and part it's our fault, that we don't do a good enough job explaining to the community, the difficulties that this job brings. We're human beings underneath this uniform, and I don't wear my uniform all the time, and I told someone, I don't wear it because I get judged sometimes too quickly before people get to know me as Deanna and they don't get to know the concept of my character and what's in my heart because they just see this thing and they cannot get past it.

            Anyway, I've probably got no face, sorry. So I've done a lot of work in slow in being a good ally. I've taught my folks on procedural justice and legitimacy and implicit bias. They've all been trained in crisis intervention so that they can deal more effectively with people that are in crisis. And those things have shown in our, we've had a huge reduction in use of force, we've had a reduction in citizen complaints, and we've had such a good increase in open communication with folks.

            I'm an ally to marginalized communities because I'm a police leader that loves both. I love policing, I love the people that engage in the work, the very difficult work of policing. And I love our marginalized communities that don't like us, quite frankly. And I have the ability as a police chief to change policies, to change practices, to change people and to ultimately change the culture of policing and equally important to change community members, hearts, and minds about how they feel about people in this uniform. And so I think that that is what makes me an ally, and I've done that work for the last four and a half years. I've done it for longer than that. I've been in policing almost 27 years, and I've done that work for many, many years, but for the four and a half years in San Luis Obispo.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you, Deanna. I think these personal narratives are really important and I'm glad you brought that up. And now we see how these systems affect us personally. And just quickly along the lines of allyship, this is one of those questions I'm sure will come up around. Do you get to call yourself an ally or does it need to be given to you? And so that's something to think about all along in these questions too, is who gets to tell you whether or not you're an ally, and do you get to proclaim that yourself. Let's move on to Lan.

Lan George:

Okay. I've unmuted myself. Thank you so much for having me today. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this really important topic. And I'm going to read, unlike Deanna, unlike the chief, just because I want to make sure that I cover all the points that I want to cover. So I apologize for reading, but I believe it's the best way to get my message across.

            So shortly after the George Floyd murder, I reached out to our chief of police, and I asked him to clarify the department's position on deescalation, diversity and use of force training. Specifically how many hours, how often, all the information that the public had been worrying and asking for. Our city staff immediately got to work to agendize a presentation to our council and to the public regarding police policies and training procedures and that presentation was scheduled for June 9th.

            Emails began flooding in mainly about eight to wait and the need for our PD to adopt the eight key priorities. I'm so proud to say that our AGPD had already met almost all of the requirements of eight can't wait, except for the carotid hold, which the department suspended use of shortly after our meeting. So on June 5th, BLM organizers held a planned protest in our city, while it was a largely peaceful, organized march, some events that transpired that day created a really big and great divide in our community and ultimately led to three and a half hours of public comment at our June 9th council meeting.

            Coincidentally, this is the same council meeting that we had already scheduled RPD to come and give a presentation on their policies and training in an effort to get feedback from us and from the community on ways that they can address and improve their department. What I heard loud and clear from those three and a half hours of very personal, very emotional and very heated public comment was that we have a minority population that has clearly expressed that they don't feel safe and they don't feel welcome and they don't feel protected.

            So that really hit home for me because Arroyo Grande on the surface is known as a very warm, very loving, very welcoming community. So to have members of our public come forth and be brave enough to share and express those feelings was something that meant a lot to me as a council person. And I knew I had to do something about that. So shortly after that meeting, our chief of police announced his retirement, and while it was a planned retirement, it nonetheless left a vacancy for a very crucial position in our organization. Our executive team led by our acting and deputy city managers recognize the need for a new hiring process in order to properly hire a new police chief, a process that reflects our current civic unrest, a process that addresses the needs for all members of our community and a process that clearly shows that our minority population is heard and respected.

            We reached out internally and externally for input regarding traits and characteristics that make an excellent chief. And we even reached out to the NAACP and we included race matters, slow in the conversation. And we felt that that was very important, and not only did this new hiring policy get adopted for hiring our police chief, it's something that our city will actually move forward in all future hirings of our executive team as well.

            Ultimately, we hired Police Chief Mike Martinez, who we believe share in our vision for a diverse and inclusive Police Department, who understands the needs of our community, of our minorities, alarmed marginalized and vulnerable populations. Chief Martinez understands our desire for a Police Department that values communication, respect and trust with all of our residents. I've had many conversations with Chief Martinez and he's expressed a strong commitment to engage with our community and our minority groups to ensure that all members of our community feel safe and feel welcome.

            We've had ongoing discussions the chief and I, and the efforts for our Police Department and its relationship with our community really will revolve around having lots of conversations. Conversations in tandem with continued feedback from our community will help us move forward, and it leads me to this one very firm conclusion.

            There are two key elements we have to focus on in order to foster public safety allies. And that first element is communication. We must create a safe space for real dialogue and discussion, and second is respect. We must respect all sides of the conversation for both civilians and members of our law enforcement. Only through this mutual respect, will the lines of communication remain open, long enough for us to have these meaningful dialogues that will truly lead to a strong allyship.

            On a personal note, my family has had our own experience with excessive use of force. That story is a long one and it involves a neighboring law enforcement organization many years ago, but I'm not going to share that story today. It's for another time, because it is so long, but I will say, as a result of that incident, my family fought for five years for policy change. This is before I came into office and we fought for police reform within that organization and ultimately, it led to some very minor compromises, but nothing of sub substance.

            Even with that negative experience, I have never, never wavered in my support of good policing and in my support of our law enforcement. However, my lived experience is why I am so motivated to work in cooperation with our local law enforcement on proactive policies, on training programs and procedures and more so on creating a culture within the organization and within the city's organization that is diverse and inclusive.

            When my children were of an age where my husband and I felt it was appropriate to share our story with them, we did. And it was a harrowing story, but we felt that they needed to know the truth and our children had many questions, but the most resounding question they had was, how do we stop this from happening in the future? And our answer then is the same as our answer would be now, it's policy change, it's education, it's training and understanding. I have not always been in a position to affect policy change, but now that I am, it is incumbent upon me to do so.

            My reasons are personal because I want to be able to reassure my children and your children and future generations that it is safe, and it is right for them to call on law enforcement when they need to, this is something I want every citizen to feel reassured to do. And I know that this may not be our current reality, but I hope that as we all work forward, that it will be in the future. So I'll leave you with this, to foster relationship and create an ally with public safety, we need to show respect for one another.

            We need to use kind and effective words. We need to show grace and we need to, we can accomplish so much more when we are respected and we're valued. And lastly, reach out, Chief Cantrell had said it, underneath every uniform is our neighbor, is a friend, is a Little League coach. We need to be able to connect with law enforcement and connect with residents on a human level and work together towards the betterment of our community. I appreciate so much having the opportunity to speak today, and I hope that I'll be able to answer some of your questions later on. Thank you.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you so much Lan, so far it sounds like we are all very much on the same page. Of course, when we get to the questions, we might see where there are some differences there, but we're certainly going to try and spend as much of this evening to answer those questions. Dan, your opening statement, please.

Dan Dow:

Okay. Thank you very much, appreciate the introduction Cornel. And first of all, I just want to say how grateful I am to be here as a part of this community discussion, to provide my perspective as your District Attorney about how public safety and our District Attorney's office is already functioning as an ally to all people within our community, because it's a real function of our role.

            And also to express a commitment publicly to continuously look for ways that we can improve and be a better ally to all people within our community. Victims of crime, I'll call them survivors, that's really what they are, are all types of people. They come from every walk of life, every socioeconomic background, every race, every gender and crime affects all people. And often it's people of color or people within our communities that might not trust the criminal justice system and have fear of it, or just not feel comfortable reporting that they were crime victim.

            And so we're continuously working hard as an office, but also through our organizations that we work with in the community, the support organizations like RISE and Stand Strong and the other victim services organizations to make sure that people feel safe to report and contact law enforcement, because we don't want anyone to feel alienated. In addition, we want them to feel supported throughout the whole process after they've reported, but then through the whole criminal justice process.

            I and my fellow prosecutors here, the investigators, all of the staff in our District Attorney's office, strongly condemn violence of all kind, abusive power by those who have power and racism, wherever it exists in any form. And we fully embrace that it's our duty and responsibility as an organization to cultivate public trust in our criminal justice system, and that's where the challenge comes in, that's where I think our work is to be done, but to do that through being consistent, through being bold about accepting change, always being fair and have decision-making that is colorblind that promotes unity within our communities in by enforcing the law equally, ensuring accountability for all.

            We are committed to not letting racism or indifference to human life go unchecked. I'm also proud of the track record that we have as a District Attorney's office in prosecuting hate crimes. As Cornel opened up with, with just the history of how our diversity coalition began, that case in Arroyo Grande in 2011, was prosecuted by members of this office and worked very, very hard to prosecute four individuals that burned that cross in that black family's yard. All four were sentenced, two to five years in prison, one for 11 and another for 12 years.

            A year or so after that case, our office was given an award for going above and beyond the call of duty by the Anti-Defamation League down in Los Angeles. And I don't say that to bring undue attention, but I want to recognize that that has been the longterm commitment of this office, to prosecute hate crimes because they're important, incredibly important. I also want to acknowledge that I personally agree that racism exists in the heart of human beings, everywhere. People of every background, it's here in our county, just like it is in every place across the globe, every community.

            It's a sad reality that we as humans have racism continuing in the year 2020, and as your District Attorney, I take racism very seriously. Under my leadership. We've prosecuted numerous instances of those hate crimes, where evidence of racism has often been the determining factor and I'm firmly committed to uprooting racism wherever it's found, whether it's in the criminal justice system that we have or anywhere else in the community. The very role of the prosecutor is, has long been viewed as the person that represents everyone in the community.

            And way back in 1889, when our state was only 39 years old, a California Supreme Court case was published, and in that case, the Supreme Court Justice wrote, "That equally with the court, the District Attorney, as the representative of law and justice should be fair and impartial." And that is our view as prosecutors of our role. Our specific mission here in San Louis County is to bring justice and safety to our community by aggressively and fairly prosecuting crime and protecting the rights of crime victims.

            It sounds simple, but it's incredibly complex. And the word fairly is much more important than aggressively. We accomplish that mission by adhering to our office values that we adopted as a management team, and these are values not only for how we interact with our own staff, but our court partners, our defense colleagues, victims, witnesses, community groups, and organizations and other partners that we have in the community. Those five values are integrity, professionalism, accountability, communication, and collaboration.

            And by those values, we believe we serve every individual who lives in our community. We want our community to be safe for every person that is here in San Louis. We actually, when we go to court, it's not Dan Dow versus a defendant, we're actually going in representing, the party is called that we represent is called the People of the State of California. Literally we represent every one of you that are listening tonight, every person in the State of California, even the defendant who has been charged.

            We represent him as a member of society at large, and that's why our ethical obligations are incredibly high. One of our important roles is to also not only protect the rights of the victim, but throughout the whole process to ensure that if we find any reason to believe that the defendant, the accused person's rights are being violated, we have an obligation to bring that to the attention of the court and to make that right, even if it means we have to dismiss a case. So our role under the California Constitution is to be the one and only criminal prosecution agency to represent the people in our county for state law violations.

            The Attorney General can prosecute in any County within the state, but by the constitution, the original jurisdiction lies with the office of District Attorney. Every County in California has an elected District Attorney. So there are 58 counties, 58 DAs and the offices vary in size, depending on the population of course, and the need for services. But just to give you an example of our office, we have 110 total employees. We're technically the largest law firm in San Luis Obispo County, only 38 of our 110 employees are lawyers, and if you look at the County of Los Angeles, the LA DA's office is so large in terms of scale, they have over 900 attorneys. So we've got 38 attorneys out of 110 employees. It just gives you an idea of how vastly different the size of the office can be. We have an [crosstalk 00:47:35].

Fanshen Cox:

Dan Sorry, I'm going to ask you to wrap it up about 30 more seconds for your opening statements, just so that we can make sure we get to the questions.

Dan Dow:

Very good. Well, I just want to really leave it with the fact that we don't. Last year, we had almost 12,000 cases. We only filed 9,700 of them. We look at absolutely every case, we will review it, all of the evidence. And last year we filed 9,700. So we sent back to the law enforcement agencies, 18%. And my point on that is, is that while we work closely with law enforcement in our mission, we're not always lock step with law enforcement and it's okay. We have a, what I call a healthy tension, and there are about, I said 18% of our cases we believe have not met our burden to file because we need to file at a level of evidence that is proved beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher standard than the standard on the law enforcement agency to issue an arrest. So I will stop there. Thank you.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you so much, Dan. I do notice kind of a trend happening in so far in our opening statements, which is kind of making this a broad conversation about like Dan, you mentioned everyone is racist a little bit in their hearts, or Deanna, you talked about your experience growing up. And I do want to make sure that we bring back this focus really is on black lives matter. That is a part of our title, and there's a reason for that. That's going back to those historical points and systemic racism that we talked about.

            I think if you really look at the historical context of racism, I don't necessarily, I would push back on saying that everyone is racist. I think actually race was created for white supremacist ideology and therefore white people are racist, and there's discrimination otherwise. But I do want to make sure we're not kind of making this, everybody is bad and everybody is good. We are specifically focusing on systemic racism. I know our next speaker in her opening statement is really going to start to push us in the direction of kind of really tangible steps we can make. But I think it is important, especially as we move into the Q$A, for everyone to keep in mind, part of this title is specifically Black Lives Matter and that's important. All right. Thank you, Vivien.

Vivien Devaney-Frice:

[inaudible 00:24:12]. Thank you so much. Hello, everyone. It's such an honor to be here with you all today, representing Restorative Partners and the work that we do, and also representing myself. I want to start off by just thanking the Diversity Coalition for hosting this really important discussion, and then further ongoing anti-racism work in our community. And I also wanted to thank Fanshen for the amazing work she's doing, facilitating this panel.

            And finally, I wanted to thank Lan for kind of blazing the trail for reading from some notes, because I am also going to be using some notes this evening. So thank you Lan for setting that tone. So my name is Vivien Devaney-Frice. I use she, her pronouns and I'm the director of in Custody and Reentry Programs at Restorative Partners, we're a nonprofit 501(c)(3)organization here in SLO County.

            As you've you probably heard in my biography earlier, the goal of our work is to reduce violence and lower recidivism by providing a continuum of care from incarceration, through reincorporation into our community. So we do this through a number of programs and services that are designed to meet the diverse and unique needs of people in custody and of those returning to our community.

            We recognize at our agency that hurt people, hurt people, and so we provide support and methods of transformation for mind, body, and spirit. So the topic for tonight's panel is public safety and allyship. And this was something I really took to heart, when trying to think about what my comments were going to be, how I was going to represent the work that we do. The first thing that came to my mind was something that a mentor of mine told me a number of years ago. And she said that, "Ally is a verb, it's not a noun. You do allyship." And this mindset includes the way we think, the way we act and the things that we allow or make excuses for. I'm a white person, I'm in a leadership role.

Vivien Devaney-Frice:

I'm a white person. I'm in a leadership role within a social services agency, and I hold a great deal of power and privilege because of those things. Earlier, when Fanshen described systemic racism, I was just thinking, I couldn't do this conversation justice, if I didn't acknowledge that I, as a white, sober, free, college educated person has benefited from that system. So, I wanted to start with that, and just use that to set the tone for what I'm going to be speaking about. Restorative Partners, our lens on public safety is very broad. This is largely due to our commitment to providing mechanisms for healing and restoration, in addition to accountability and making amends. And I want to take a moment to define two concepts that are really central to our work. Those are restorative practices and restorative justice.

            Restorative practices is an emerging social science that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals, as well as social connections within communities. So, though this is new to the social scientists, restorative practices has very deep roots within indigenous communities throughout the world. So, while this may be a new term for some of you, this is by no means a new concept.

            Restorative justice is a way of looking at criminal justice that focuses on repairing the harm done to people and relationships. This does not mean that offenders should not be held accountable, and it simply means that the needs of those harmed should be centered in the conversation. So, restorative practices and restorative justice are holistic approaches to public safety, because they address the range of programs from prevention, to intervention, to treatment, to restitution, and they provide infinite solutions to those situations. These processes ask questions like who has been harmed, what do they need, and whose obligation is it to meet these needs?

            And these processes don't prescribe the process, the roadmap, or the outcome of each situation, because we know that relationships and situations can be tricky. It can be messy, it can be complicated. And instead, restorative practices and restorative justice centers and amplifies the voices of those who have been harmed, and provides direct action for those who have caused harm in order to take accountability and make amends. So, when we talk about restorative practices and restorative justice, we are also talking about allyship with BIPOC, black, indigenous, and people of color, because we're talking about alternatives to incarceration. Not alternatives to accountability, I should clarify, but processes that allow for the possibility of a different outcome. This is incredibly important, because as a nation, black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated as white men, and Latinx men are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as white men.

            Restorative practices and restorative justice are therefore inextricably linked to racial justice. That we have an obligation as service providers and as community members to be actively engaged in anti-racist work at the individual level, the relationship level, the community level, and the systems level. Right now, at Restorative Partners, we provide restorative conferencing as an alternative to traditional methods of punitive justice. Rather than removing folks from our recovery homes when they relapse, we have a facilitated dialogue with the person who has caused harm and anybody who is impacted by their actions, including neighbors, staff members, family members, house members, anybody who is impacted. We are in the process of advocating for this to be adopted by our local justice system. We imagine a justice system that treats instances of harm as opportunities for restoration and accountability. We also imagine a community that invests in prevention strategies, in social services, and in restorative approaches to harm.

            And trust me, it can happen. We just need to get creative in our solutions and dare to think differently, because in the meantime, the system will continue to disproportionately impact black, indigenous, and people of color. It will continue to incarcerate and disenfranchise millions of people, and it will continue to punish and reinforce poverty. So, at Restorative Partners, we believe that there's no time like the present and no place like SLO County to come together as allies and stakeholders, because we know that we can make a difference. I wanted to give some action steps for some ways to continue this conversation. And if you're interested in some more information, I invite you to follow our Facebook and Instagram pages at Restorative Partners. We post lots of information and ways to engage. I encourage you to follow the diversity coalition socials, if you don't already. You can visit restorativepartners.org, or iirp.org to learn more about restorative practices.

            And I think Kendra is going to pop that into the chat box too. Or you can sign up for our newsletter to learn more about local work in restorative justice. Two quick takeaways for your personal life, just because always the educator. I encourage you, when harm has been caused, I encourage you to consider the questions that I presented earlier to ask yourself who has been harmed, what do they need, and whose obligation is it to meet these needs?

            I can tell you firsthand that has transformed the way I have dealt with harm in my own life. And I ask you to consider how the relationships in your life, personal and professional, can benefit from an intentional focus on relationships, accountability, and restoration at all of the levels, personal, family, work, community. To borrow a phrase from my wonderful colleagues over at RISE, this work begins at home, and there's so much more that we can do. Thanks.

Fanshen Cox:

Awesome. Thank you so much. And thank you for the brilliance of Cornel for the order of our panelists. I think that was wonderful. And I appreciate all of your perspectives so much. We are going to now address our questions. And so, and actually I'll quickly request please, that instead of writing your question in the chat, please write your questions in the Q and A link. That's where we'll be taking the questions from. So, our first question is for Deanna. How much violence from a police officer is a civilian expected to endure before defending themselves? So, as an example, is protecting your face from attack considered resisting arrest? Is pushing an officer's hand away considered assaulting an officer?

Deanna Cantrell:

Okay, good question. I hope the answer to that is none. I hope that nobody experiences violence from a police officer. So, I guess, I probably define violence maybe in a different way. Is pushing an officer's hand away considered resisting arrest? Yes. If an officer tells somebody that they are under arrest, then compliance would look like, please turn around, put your hands behind your back, and the person does. Stiffening their arms, or slapping their hand away, or something of that nature would be considered resisting. And then what was your other part of the question?

Fanshen Cox:

The other question was, is protecting your face from attack considered resisting arrest?

Deanna Cantrell:

Well, that's tricky. I don't know why an officer would be hitting someone in the face if they weren't already doing something that provoked that. We don't hit people in the face very often. That's a pretty significant use of force. And so, we would have to be facing some very significant resistance already for that to happen. Now, I'm not saying that happens all the time. We've seen videos, and I'm not saying every police officer is perfect. There's probably officers that have hit people in the face that aren't supposed to. So, I'm not saying that, but can you defend yourself? Dan, you want to help me out on this? I don't really, that's a tricky question.

Fanshen Cox:

Okay, Dan.

Dan Dow:

Sure. I'd be happy to join in. So, yeah, this is where it is very tricky. I mean, we hope that individuals, when they're contacted by law enforcement, will comply. Technically, if they, when we review a case that involves resistance of a citizen against a police officer, one of the things we have to look at is, was the law enforcement officer in the lawful performance of their duties? And so, it's a hard one. When I've asked before by folks, "Hey, can I go and help somebody else if they're getting arrested, and I think they're getting abused?" Well, I wouldn't recommend it unless you're absolutely 100% sure that that officer's not in a lawful performance of their duties. And if you don't have all the background, then you really don't know. But if an officer is not using lawful force, meaning they don't have a right to arrest you and put their hands on, technically the law says a person can lawfully resist.

            And that means if somebody is using force, you can use force, if it's reasonable force, in defense. But again, the reason why were hopeful that folks will comply and work with the law enforcement officer is because anytime anyone is using some kind of force, it's probably going to be met with an escalation of force, one way or the other. And so, ultimately, there's also a penal code section that says that citizens shall obey the commands and the directions of law enforcement. So, there's a presumption, essentially, that they're in the lawful performance of their duties. I certainly don't want anybody to believe that you should take it lightly and use force against an officer. What we're hoping for is professional law enforcement making professional contacts and the citizens to comply.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you.

Deanna Cantrell:

And I guess I would just add to that, that most people don't have a great understanding of the criminal justice process. Most people don't understand their own Fourth Amendment rights, or the Fourth Amendment rights of law enforcement. And so, what they might think is unlawful, or what they might think is unnecessary, could very much be lawful.

Dan Dow:

Yes.

Deanna Cantrell:

Their resistance to what they think is unlawful can just be held against them further, if that makes sense.

Fanshen Cox:

Sure. Dan and Deanna, are you working towards making sure those things are clear in the community, accessible and clear, so that people know what their rights are?

Deanna Cantrell:

Yeah. So, I have something I brought up called PEACE. It's policing education and community engagement. And it's a way for us to teach the community about policing. One of the classes we had set up before COVID happened was called Know Your Rights. And it was, I'm a Fourth Amendment expert. And so, I was going to teach a class on the Fourth Amendment. One of the misconceptions is Miranda, that when we arrest people or put handcuffs on people, a lot of the community thinks we need to read Miranda. And that's not true. Miranda's only required when two things are present, when somebody is in custody and they are being interrogated or asked incriminating questions.

            So, if those two things are present, then Miranda is required, but it's not required the moment you put handcuffs on or anything like that. And so, there's a lot of misconceptions. And so, we are doing classes on knowing your rights. We did a class on use of force in PEACE. And so, we're trying to teach people about those kinds of things, and we would love more attendance to those kinds of things.

Fanshen Cox:

Great. So, that's something that the community can definitely provide feedback on, whether or not they've felt like they actually have learned and feel confident that they understand the differences between what counts as force and not. And so, it sounds like you'd be open to hearing feedback about what's not working, and open to shifting to make sure that it's working.

Deanna Cantrell:

Yeah. And and we would love to teach more of those classes as well.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you.

Deanna Cantrell:

So, community interest in that. And the other thing about use of force real quick is that it's all reviewed, in not just my police department, but in all police departments. And what is considered use of force is defined differently in different police departments. So, that's a little bit tricky. It's not like there's a national standard. And so, if I say, "Hey, we used force 26 times last year," I know what that means for us, but what it means for another agency could be, they may not consider a use of force until somebody is injured, or have to go to the hospital, or something of that nature. And so, it's a little, so the data, you really have to dig into that to get correct data. But every use of force is looked at up the chain of command to make sure that it was lawful.

Fanshen Cox:

I mean, I'll just mention again, going back to what I said in the beginning around the importance of historical context, is for on the criminal justice side, understanding that historically, the reason some of these policies differ everywhere is precisely so that they can be used against people who are already marginalized in these systems. So, I think that that's something just to keep in mind. Dan, to you, a question from Elena G., and this goes back to your talking about broader context and everyone. And Elena would like to know what does Black Lives Matter mean to you? And do you support the Black Lives Matter movement?

Dan Dow:

Well, black lives absolutely matter. I said that at our meeting the other day that I was part of. What does it mean to me? Is that what you're asking?

Fanshen Cox:

Yes. What does Black Lives Matter mean to you?

Dan Dow:

Well, Black Lives Matter-

Fanshen Cox:

The black lives matter movement. Yes.

Dan Dow:

Well, Black Lives Matter is a movement, and it's an organization with a desire to bring to the forefront a lot of the challenges that the black community is facing, and has faced for a long time in our community. In terms of what it means here in our community, I think what's important, as I said before, is that all of our organizations, whether they be governmental organizations or nongovernmental organizations, that we work together to make sure that people of all color are treated fair and equal.

            And as far as what my role as district attorney, it's to make sure that our criminal justice system treats people that way, without regard to color. And to being open to looking for ways that there are, perhaps, undetected or unknown, unconscious pieces of our system that are perceived as being unfair. And working to build trust with people of all color, black people in our community and other people. So that, everyone-

Fanshen Cox:

Dan, I'm going to push back on that because you do keep saying, you've used the word colorblind. And what we're saying is that actually it is important to see color, not only because we're proud of our color, and we're proud of our heritage, and all of the things that come with that, but that also that is a way to see disparities and to see the historical context of where we are with criminal justice right now. So, at least because this is specifically about systemic racism, I'm going to ask you to keep that in mind and not tag on each time, everybody and all people, because we are specifically talking about people who are marginalized racially.

Dan Dow:

But Fanshen, my personal [worldview 01:08:34] is that we're all created by God, and we all are equal, regardless of where we were born, where we were raised, what communities we live in. And so, that's to me, the dignity of every human life, and I'm not willing to compromise on that.

Fanshen Cox:

We're just not all treated that way. [crosstalk 01:08:52]

Dan Dow:

And I agree with that. I absolutely agree with that.

Fanshen Cox:

Great. I'm going to move on to Lan, a question for you. Can you, or have you provided assistance to the SLO City Council to help them achieve what you have done in Arroyo Grand?

Lan George:

I have not provided any assistance to the SLO City Council. I do have a friend on the SLO City Council, but we have not had any conversations as far as correspondence with our police department, and their police department, and how things are run, unfortunately. No.

Fanshen Cox:

Okay. So, it sounds like that might be something that is an action step that we could take at the end of this [crosstalk 00:17:31].

Lan George:

Absolutely. I'm happy to have conversations with anyone who wants to have a conversation, and not just with SLO City Council. We have a lot of neighboring jurisdictions here. We have a Grover Beach, we have Oceana, we have Pismo. So, lots of, and now with the election, and so many people coming out, and lots of different platforms, I look forward to having conversations about how we can move this movement forward and help our individual cities and individual organizations recognize the need to bridge this gap.

Fanshen Cox:

Wonderful. Thank you. So, Vivian, I'll start asking you to respond to this one, but this is a question that's come up a lot already is around the justice for Tiana [inaudible 00:01:10:22], and what happened. So, we will open this up, and I thought, Vivian, it might be good to start with you and whether or not there have been any forward movement towards a restorative response to what happened there.

Vivien Devaney-Frice:

That's a great question, and thank you for addressing this. I've been seeing the questions come in, so I'm glad we're talking about this. I do know, and I know that this is an open investigation and an open legal situation, so I don't want to speak too much out of turn, but I do know that we are talking, as Restorative Partners, about how we can offer services.

            We are, like I said, in the process of advocating. We have been for a number of months advocating for restorative conferencing to be adopted, for restorative practices to be adopted. We are having internal conversations about what exactly we can offer, what our capacity is, and what those services might look like as we are able to move forward with this. So, I think as it is unfolding, these conversations are being had, and we are starting to move forward with what that could look like from our end, from Restorative Partners. But I'm sure other panelists can address from their lens too, but we are having those conversations that are absolutely open to that process and understanding how we can play a role in facilitating that.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you so much. Deanna, would you like to comment?

Deanna Cantrell:

So, I had a conversation with Sister Teresa, and this was right after the arrest of Tiana, and she talked to me about that, about my thoughts on a restorative justice process. And here's the reality. I like Tiana, and I like Jaylin. I like Xavier. I think they're young kids, and I think maybe they've gotten a little bit of not sound advice, maybe, from some of their mentors. And I know she's 20 years old, and I was 20 years old once, and I was dumb, and I'm not saying she's dumb. I'm saying I was immature, and I did crazy things. And so, I get that, on one hand. I'm also the Police Chief and I'm responsible for public safety.

Fanshen Cox:

Sorry. Do you want to, I just want to clarify. Are you saying that what she did was a crazy, that you're saying, are you just saying that she did it because she's young, or that it was a crazy thing to do?

Deanna Cantrell:

No. I'm speaking for me. I said I did crazy things.

Fanshen Cox:

What's the connection with her?

Deanna Cantrell:

That I was 20, and I didn't know as much things as I know now.

Fanshen Cox:

Okay.

Deanna Cantrell:

And Tiana, I think has a lot of potential. I told her that. I think she's got a lot of potential in the Black Lives Matter movement. And as a leader, she's a natural leader of people. And so, we've had that conversation. The thing on the restorative justice part of it is that, I guess I'm saying, who you are at 20 is not who you're going to be later. Anyway, on the restorative justice front, do I want her to have convictions and a criminal record that's going to impact her life later? No. What I do want is I want her to realize that she cannot engage in that kind of behavior. And I'm sure there's a disagreement. Some people think that there was nothing wrong with any of the behavior.

            I disagree with that. This is why she was charged with the crimes that she was charged with. And so, there has got to be a level of accountability. And to Vivian's point, restorative justice isn't about no accountability. There is accountability in it, it's just what kind of accountability is that going, what is that going to look like? The other thing is is that there are victims in this case, and I don't get to decide for them, just like you. If you're the victim of a sexual assault and you want to move forward with prosecution, or you don't, that is your decision, individually. And so, I don't get to speak for those victims. And so, that's why it goes into the process that it's in. There's checks and balances. The police department deals with probable cause, we arrest people, we send charges, all the charges we think comply, over to the DA's office. The DA's office deals with a completely different standard of proof.

            And we'll take a look at that, and talk to victims, and determine, which is the best way to go. The DA's office sometimes does go a restorative justice way, or is the traditional criminal justice process the way to go? And part of that's about what kind of accountability does Tiana have? Does she feel like there was anything wrong with her actions? And so, that's all going to have to be determined through the DA's office and victim witness at some point.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you. Dan, would you like to comment?

Dan Dow:

No, I ethically cannot comment on this case.

Fanshen Cox:

Okay. All right. And again, and something I really appreciate about restorative justice is, and I hate to be a broken record, but it also does look at that historical context again, right? So, you're looking at the individuals involved, their personal narratives, which also we're really appreciative that everyone on this call has shared some of your own personal narratives. But we cannot forget that there's a history there. So, there's a different history for her than there is for you, Deanna. Even though you were both the same age, you are coming at this with different relationships to systems. And that's always important to remember in any kind of allyship that we have, or restorative justice, or anyways. But I love that, potentially, it sounds like we might be getting to a place where restorative justice is going to be a big part of SLOs resources and means of unifying community, and that's exciting. That would be a really good outcome. Yes, Vivian.

Vivien Devaney-Frice:

Can I jump in real quick?

Fanshen Cox:

Yes.

Vivien Devaney-Frice:

Just to build on something you had said, I think something that's so wonderful about this process is exactly what I mentioned in my statement. And I know I ran over it a little bit, but this process can be exactly what we need it to be in any situation. And I think that is what is so great about this. We acknowledge that situations are tricky, and it's not necessarily a victim and offender at all times, and that it can just be people, and people's lives that bump into each other. And I think that this case is a really great example of just so many moving parts, where a restorative justice approach could be really beneficial to this, which is why we are so open to this as well. Because we acknowledge that this is tricky, and it's messy, and there are lots of things involved. It's not as clear cut. And so, this is a way that we could intervene, and then everybody has a voice and everybody gets heard.

Dan Dow:

And Fanshen, and I just wanted to jump in. Thank you, Vivian. I'm a huge supporter of Restorative Partners and Sister Teresa and the work that she's doing, and the idea of restorative justice. I also subscribe to the idea that-

Dan Dow:

...sort of justice. I also subscribe to the idea that one size does not fit all when a one solution for one case should not necessarily be exactly the same solution. We want to have fairness and equity, but we also look at people's backgrounds and their unique characteristics and the unique factors of a particular case in determining what the right punishment is. At the end of the day, it's not just on the district attorney and the defense lawyer. The court has to weigh in. First of all, the court has to approve whatever the sentence is once the case has been filed. Often they do, if the parties agree, but there are cases where the court may weigh in and say, "I'm not willing to accept that particular bargain or that particular agreement, unless you add in some other things." So it's complex, but I absolutely believe in using restorative justice when it's appropriate.

            I also would say that it's not something that can be used in every case. And again, I can't talk about this specific case, but I in general, I'm very supportive of restorative justice and I have been for a long time.

Fanshen Cox:

Yeah, it's tough because it would be great if we could say that for all cases, but the criminal justice system does have some very specific means for determining cases, determining, for example, whether it was resisting arrest. So I would kind of push back and ask why not. Why couldn't it be a part of moving forward? That's just a question to put out there into the universe, as we're all thinking about how to be an ally. To Dan and Deanna, and then certainly Lan and Vivien. If you want to follow up with your thoughts on these because I started by talking a little bit about defunding the police and this kind of mean that we're all seeing. So the question is from Malcolm. What aspects of policing in your view should be given over to other agencies? Deanna, we'll start with you.

Deanna Cantrell:

Yeah. Great. I love that question. Surprisingly, when we talk about defunding the police, I'm probably more on a neutral side of it and not against the... And I don't love that term "defunding the police" it's more about restructuring, quite frankly.

            When funding was cut for mental health and for homeless services and drug and alcohol, it's not like the funding came to police departments and people need to understand that and go back and look at our budgets. It's not like the funding for all those services came over to us. What came to us were all of the calls for service and all of the problems with no training. We're not social workers, we don't get social... We don't get a lot of mental health training and we certainly didn't back in the '09s, late '90s and early 2000s. We came from behind with CIT training.

            All of us are trying to play catch up now because so many of our calls for service in San Luis Obispo, 20% of our calls for service are homeless related. What I think we need to do is we've got to develop the systems first. You can't just take the funding first and say, "Give me this much money and then I'm going to develop the service and the system," because who's going to respond to all of it in the meantime is really the issue because the police are still going to end up having to respond until the system gets put in place.

            I would say, find the funding somewhere, get the system, put it in place, and then if you see police calls for service go like this and start to come down by that 20% or 25% or whatever it turns out to be, fantastic. Then yes, the police department should restructure at that point. If that means changing the models, getting rid of staff, going to civilian staff, do the mental health workers work in the police department like they do at many agencies, we have a pretty successful model in slow. There's a very successful model in Oregon called CAHOOTS. People should look that up. It's fantastic. The things that we shouldn't really be doing, now I have to have a caveat here because there are criminal elements to mental health calls for service. There are criminal elements to homeless related calls for service.

            If we get a homeless related call for a service, it isn't always just something that a social worker and maybe a paramedic can deal with. Sometimes there is a crime that's also committed. That has to be investigated by a police officer. So that's why I think you have to get the system put in place first, and then you can determine, okay, how much is it going to affect our calls for service really? Because how much of it is still crime related and not just mental health and not just homeless related? So, hopefully that makes sense, but really from a mental health, homeless, and then I'm sure that could expand potentially into other things. But I think [crosstalk 01:23:24].

Fanshen Cox:

Are you... Sorry. The organizations that you talked about starting or being a part of or within your work, is this something that you are actively working towards?

Deanna Cantrell:

Yeah, so we, I guess it's probably been about a year and a half. We got the first social worker through a grant through County Behavioral Health and a partnership through TMHA, Transitions-Mental Health Association. So we have an employee that works for the police department, but he actually is hired by TMHA, but he's integrated in the police department. He's a social worker and he's partnered with a police officer and the two of them go to homeless related calls for service and mental health related calls for service. It's been incredible. The work that they've done is incredible. The reduction of calls for service. There's a statistic that a social worker could make contact with somebody that is in a mental health crisis 11 times before that person will accept services. A police officer has to make contact with them over 60 times before they will accept services from us.

            Just that difference. So we just applied for another grant. We don't know if we've gotten it yet, but we applied for a grant to get a second social worker with the police department. Then the fire department and I have been talking about doing a program with a mental health worker, a paramedic who can give medication to people, and a police officer. My light just went out. Okay, there we go. And a police officer. So that being a three person team that can go to calls and then that will reduce calls that go to the hospital and tie up hospitals and so on and so forth. There's a lot of work being done in it, but there certainly does need to be more.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you. I'm going to ask you Dan and Lan and Vivien, and this may be the last thing that we can address fully. I would like to request that Deanna and Dan, especially because many of these questions in chat messages are directed to you. If we can make a copy of these and send them to you afterwards it would be for everyone to have, but also so that you know some things we weren't able to get to and some of the comments they're terrific. Obviously they are your people, your community. Dan on defunding the police.

Dan Dow:

Thank you, Fanshen. I agree with what Chief Cantrell has said about the terms of the mental health area. I think one area that we haven't talked about yet, I feel very strongly about, is investing in kids. All the way down to even prenatal care for underprivileged people in the community and working very early on with childhood development and putting more funding towards those programs. I don't know where the funding comes from. I don't know what you take away from policing, but I've been a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids since I was elected as DA. It's where law enforcement chiefs and DAs and sheriffs all over the country have a legislative agenda to help both at the federal and the state level to invest in kids. It's called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. They have programs. In fact, they have a police training institute, which trains officers and recruits at the academies on how to effectively deescalate conflict and having safe, positive interactions with at risk young people or people in more of vulnerable communities.

            I firmly believe that if we provide the right resources so that children can grow up in a healthy and safe environment, they're going to be better positioned later on. They're going to have better resources. They're going to be more confident. They're going to be doing better in school. Those kinds of things, investing in those kids, I think will help divert people who may otherwise without that kind of safe upbringing and resources end up because of having strikes against them that they didn't create for themselves. So I feel strongly in that. Each year when they provide to us a list of their legislation, I've been privileged to support it both in Sacramento and the federal legislation because I think that's where we can have the longterm effect. Because there's stuff... What can we do here and now today? But what can we do that will literally commit that 20 years from now we've set ourselves up to where people of every community, but particularly people of color in their communities have a better chance to avoid these tracks that end up funneling into the criminal justice system.

Fanshen Cox:

Dan I just want to mention to you, the point of it is refunding instead of defunding, if that makes us uncomfortable, the police in particular. So you've talked about a program and where money should go, but not specifically about where that should come from the police. That's what we're asking the criminal justice system and slow to have the answer to. What aspect of policing can these monies be funneled into? I'm going to let Vivien and Lan respond, but I just need to make that point. It isn't about just saying the money should go there, but specifically where should it come from? We're saying, that's what we want you to be part of discussing.

Dan Dow:

I'm happy to be a part of it, but I don't agree that it's one or the other. I think we can have both and we need to have our law enforcement agencies properly staffed and properly resourced. There's a study that was released by Gallup last week that says 81% of blacks in America support the same level of policing today or more. So I don't quickly jump into the defund movement because I think statistics show that we need strong public safety. We also need to do things in a way that is better than what we have done, but I don't think we need to have one or the other.

Fanshen Cox:

Okay, but we've been doing it with lots of funding for the police and that's not working. So I guess [crosstalk 00:11:35].

Dan Dow:

I think there's a lot of police agencies that would differ with you and say they don't have enough funding today.

Fanshen Cox:

Okay. All right. So Lan please, defunding the police.

Lan George:

Thank you. I had a conversation with a couple police officers recently and I asked them that question. I think that it's important to have these conversations with not just the chief of police or the district attorney, but with actually the officers that are on the ground that are doing the work and asking them the questions that are being asked of us. If we take money away from you, where would you like to see it go and why should we take it away from you? I think that the response that I got, it was a great conversation. I don't think that our police officers want to do some of the stuff that they have been forced to do because other social services have been slowly... Their funding has been slowly chipped away.

            It is a difficult situation because it's not that, especially for Arroyo Grande, we don't have social services within our city. Our social services are our countywide social services. So it's not like we can say, "Okay, our police department, we're going to take away a million dollars in funding and then give it to the county." That's kind of not how it works.

            For us, it would be advocating for our police department in a way that we can say to the County, we need to redirect some resources to these different social services in order to alleviate some of the level of expectation that our police officers have been expected to do. Chief Cantrell touched on it. It's that their roles have slowly evolved and our police officer's relationship with social services has changed. In the past, our police officers if they dealt with someone that had a mental crisis issue, they could take them to county mental health services. Now they can't, they have to go to the hospital. Then now we have one of our police officers who are no longer on the street patrolling, but they're at the hospital and they need to remain at the hospital to keep the hospital staff safe because the hospital staff doesn't have the resources to protect themselves while they try to figure out how to get the proper help for these people that have the issues with mental health.

            The struggle there is are police officers are compassionate people. They don't want to have to arrest them, right? So, I think we have a systemic problem. Our system is broken and there needs to be, at least in Arroyo Grande, there needs to be a better way to connect with our social services and work with our county supervisors to properly fund these services. I do agree with Chief Cantrell, we can't just take money away from our police officers if we don't give them the resources they need in to do their job.

            I do believe that that can happen, but we need to put those social systems in place first. We need to advocate for homeless services. Our 5 City's Homeless Coalition, they do a great job with what they have, but they need more. They need more help. We can offer that help, but we also need the support of our county and probably of our state as well.

            That's what I would advocate for. I'd advocate for more state funding, more county funding, to get our social services back to where they used to be so that they're not always telling our police officers, "Sorry, we can't help you. It's all on you to figure it out." Again, we can then look at our budget and say, "Okay, police. Now that you have the systems in place, you can just focus on what you need to do and maybe we can look at your budget."

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you so much, Lan. You have big fans in the chat, so thank you so much. That was wonderful. You're clearly establishing a good model of how this can be done. We're going to turn it over to Vivien and then after Vivien, I know that Cornel will come on and close us out. So Vivien on defunding the police, please.

Vivien Devaney-Frice:

I really just kind of want to amplify what Lan just said, too. I think from where we sit at restorative partners, we recognize that for the most part we work a 9:00 to 5:00 or 8:00 to 4:30 30 for some of us, but that doesn't mean that the need for our services end when we clock out. So we have staff who are working around the clock. We also know that, and John [inaudible 00:01:34:30], he works with the slow PD, is an amazing resource for our community. And the CAT team who works with the Sheriff's department, too, again another amazing resource for our County and looking at other ways to address homeless services, mental health crises, and those kinds of things.

            We're really talking about two vehicles of people. Two vehicles of people who can respond to our entire county. That just seems unreachable, unattainable and unsustainable. When you talk about, I mean, you know in social services how frequent burnout is, how difficult it is. We're asking our mental health workers to go above and beyond and to take on an entire county. So for us, when we look at the services we provide, we're looking at around the clock care. We're looking at a crisis team who can respond to a call at the river at 3:00 in the morning. We're looking at a MET team, a mental health response team, that can go out and provide services again around the clock so that we're able to do this.

            To me that's what this looks like it. This looks like an expansion of our programs to be able to do this and to offer our services more frequently so that things don't escalate to arrest and incarceration. I'm a preventionist at heart. If we can nip it in the bud and if we can address things in the moment and send someone about their day with the medication they need, the referral they need, the support they need. That's what we want. We would rather just cut out arresting and incarceration altogether if we can avoid that by providing support upfront.

Fanshen Cox:

Thank you so much.

Vivien Devaney-Frice:

Shout out to my Aunt who just gave me a shout out in the chat box.

Fanshen Cox:

Yay. Hey, Auntie. Thank you all so much. I know, as I said in the beginning, some of this is uncomfortable and I always feel like racism, systemic racism is uncomfortable. If you don't go there as part of the conversation, you have to kind of really question how much you're doing, but I also thank all of you so much for bringing your thoughts on your solutions, being really clear about what you're all doing. Having these other chats and questions would be great for you to know. Other things that were asked in the community. There were over at this point 90 to a hundred. So I also apologize. I tried to condense some of the questions that were repeated, but thank you all so much again and Cornel, I will turn it over to you. Just make sure you unmute yourself. There you go.

Cornel Morton:

I'm unmuted. Great. Thank you. First of all, I want to thank our panelists who were in the best tradition of dialogue. We're open to share in ways that I think helped us. We are all sometimes in this work accused of, we used to call it beating around the bush, or not sharing honestly, or trying to be somehow circumspect about our comments. I do appreciate that you opened yourself up each of you to share personally, and to share how in what ways you are resources in this community. There are clear indications that we should be rushing to increase the workload of restorative partners. That [inaudible 01:38:04] in our community. I know that Vivien would probably argue with me if I said you were under utilized. I know you are quite clearly utilized and I think for all the right reasons. Lan is a wonderful resource. Doing good work and listening to what you're accomplishing and what you're struggling with and what you're accomplishing in ways that clearly include a willingness to just go beyond comfort zones, quite frankly, in AIG and so on.

            Lan I applaud your work. Vivien, you as well. Chief, Dan, you're in, obviously I don't have to tell you. You're in critically roles right now and a whole lot will happen over the next several weeks and months that we'll create for this county an opportunity to either move I believe in directions that heal us or in directions that cause us to struggle before we get anywhere near roads to healing. I don't mean to suggest that you're not making a tough decisions. You are. Each of you. You have important roles that again, can turn on a dime in a moment in any given day in any given week. I respect that. We respect that. We just want to applaud each of the panelists for the outstanding opportunities, the outstanding effort that you made tonight.

            Fanshen you are a treasure. Thank you for challenging us. Thank you for doing a great job in trying to make certain, the flavor, the tenor, the theme of those questions, which were put forward. I know that there are so many questions that are unanswered. I just want to say that I think it's a great idea. I think you mentioned it Fanshen, that we'd follow up and get those questions to the Chief and to the DA and to Vivien, to Lan. Have them wrestle with those a little bit for us and help us to understand those. I just want to make certain I remember to encourage you to participate, our participants, in the August 26 program where the focus will be on faith communities. We're looking forward to that conversation.

            Lastly, I knew that only good could come of this. This is not easy. Fanshen, I so appreciate what you just said. This is not easy dialogue. There are people who raised questions tonight that we need to respond to even the tough questions that, again, are not always easy to digest, but we have to address them nevertheless. I'm going to end by thanking the participants. I really appreciate that you're all out there. Almost 300 people at one time. With that, I'm going to close. Thank my fellow board members, the planners for this event, and wish you all a great evening. I don't know if anything else will follow my comments, but thank you all.

Five Cities Diversity Coalition dba Diversity Coalition San Luis Obispo County 

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