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In the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, the Santa Barbara and Goleta city councils, and the County Board of Supervisors, will consider adoption of proposals to address issues of racism, violence, and use of force within law enforcement.
As someone who was integrally involved in human relations commissions, hate crime prevention efforts, the city’s Fire and Police Commission in the 1990s and 2000s, and more recently (2009-2018) a member of the county realignment working group of the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) I offer some thoughts and suggestions. My hope is that all jurisdictions collaborate on a regional approach to address these issues, in addition to whatever internal actions they take. The South Coast Youth Safety Partnership, established by the City of Santa Barbara as the South Coast Gang Task Force in 2009, is an example of a successful regional model that was established to confront systemic issues that disproportionately impacted youth of color, and forced changes in policing and community intervention practices.
The dialogue and discussions re: law enforcement and criminal justice reform with a focus on racism and use of force need not be undermined by semantics or jurisdictional borders. Terminology has existed for over a decade to confront mass incarceration that disproportionately impacted black and Latino communities — the terms Justice Reinvestment and Criminal Justice Realignmentwere actually the foundations of AB 109 in California in 2011.
In 2007, Juvenile Justice realignment was implemented and resulted in a 70 percent reduction in youth incarceration and a significant reduction in the crime rate. Very simply stated, the entire purpose of Realignment efforts is to shift resources from, in that case, incarceration in state prisons, with the goal of increasing resources in the community to prevent recidivism. The idea of “justice reinvestment” seeks to redirect resources from traditional models of law enforcement and incarceration and to reinvest those resources into community efforts.
Whether through re-establishment of a human relations commission, creation of a regional public safety reinvestment and reimagining task force, or utilization of existing regional bodies, e.g., the Community Corrections Partnership, and/or expansion of the charge of the City’s Fire and Police Commission, I am confident that our community has the willingness and ability to face these challenges head on.