SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Salinas city officials hosted a news conference Wednesday to announce that they are requesting a review of the Salinas Police Department and its implementation of the Collaborative Reform Initiative by the Monterey County Civil Grand Jury.
The City said it decided to request an audit by the Grand Jury in response to a petition from residents and community groups.
"The City Council understands the concerns raised in the petition by the residents and community groups," said Mayor Kimbley Craig. "We want to respect their request for an independent review of the issues and the questions raised in the petition and feel that the Monterey County Civil Grand Jury presents an ideal opportunity for such a review. The Grand Jury is made up of Monterey County residents, so they understand the community, and regularly undertake independent investigations of government operations within Monterey County. And, they do so at no cost to the taxpayers."
The petition was submitted to the City following the City Council's approval of an updated labor contract with the Salinas Police Officer's Association. It presented concerns with the City and Police Department's operations and asked to find solutions. City Councilmembers Carla Gonzalez and Anthony Rocha received the petition and submitted it to City Manager Steve Carrigan.
"The residents and community groups that signed onto this petition have told us they lack trust in the Police Department and want transparency and to rebuild the relationship with the Police Department," Carrigan said. "The Police Department has been implementing community policing for quite some time and is continually working with the whole community to ensure trust and mutual respect. The Grand Jury represents a cross-section of the County and will be able to conduct a thorough investigation into the questions raised in the petition."
In the petition addressed to Craig and the Salinas City Council, the writers requested ten points that they want to be included in the report:
"The independent report should include at minimum the following:
- "Categorical list of services provided during the past year, particularly those reported costs incurred in direct response to COVID19.
- "Budget details during the 2020 pandemic, including the number of officers out due to COVID or other pandemic reasons continued to be paid for their service.
- "Crime statistics over the past 5 years including this past calendar year. List of contributions that have supported the decreased crime.
- "Status update on the original Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services 61 findings and 110 recommendations issued in 2016.
- "Listing and evaluation of mental health care crisis training and resources currently being practiced at the SPD. Who conducts evaluations and what is the protocol.
- "Sub-report on state and federal grants and how they are used and outcomes.
- "The citizen complaint process, count by type, and resolution turnaround time.
- "Any and all gang injunctions currently being enacted in Salinas.
- "Weapons, vehicles, and investigation devices itemized with cost and purchasing/donation source, including:
Cellular Phone Surveillance Devices, such as IMSI-catchers, Mobile Device Forensic Tools (MDFT), and the Shot Spotter.
- "Current improvement plan to build culturally responsive and community rooted best practices at the SPD. "
In 2016, a deep-dive audit of the police department was done, and the report was titled "Collaborative Reform Initiative: An Assessment of the Salinas Police Department." In it, the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services issued recommendations covering topics such as use of force, officer-involved shootings, community collaboration, internal and external communications, resource allocation and training.
The City's police committee will review the report during a meeting at the end of this month. Craig said the Grand Jury could also choose not to conduct the audit, which would make it the City's responsibility. That could cost around $30,000.
Read the Collaborative Reform Initiative report below.