Opinion by Doc Souza
This is going to be one of the two hot topics in the coming weeks. The other is how the City Council is elected. Before looking at either issue it is important to note who is behind these issues. According to an article in the Elk Grove Citizen, the main proponents are members of the The Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club. The sponsors are listed as Amar Shergill, Tracie Stafford, Maureen Craft, Jaclyn Moreno, Andrew Ramos, Ricky Barreto and Fabrizio Sasso.
The 3 names to look closely at are Shergill, Stafford and Sasso. All three have been speaking at city council meetings this year promoting their various issues. Shergill is a local attorney. Stafford ran for Mayor in 2016 and is running again in 2o18. Sasso is a local union leader, but not a resident of Elk Grove. A few weeks ago after the marches in Charlottesville, Shergill, Stafford and others tried to get the City Council to condemn the comments of President Trump. The council chose not to get involved in a national issue. Then Shergill drafted a letter condemning the remarks and sent it to various community leaders, including the city council to have them sign it. The local leaders had no choice but to sign the letter at that point.
Stafford has been critical of the lack of diversity on the city council and the city staff. She recently came under fire for an email that was sent to the council, city staff and several media members regarding the location of the Town Hall meeting on race relations. The email was shared on the Elk Grove Laguna Forums Facebook Page. In comments on the Facebook page, one person said she spoke to Stafford and was told the email did not go out to any members of the media. This was proven to be false, as I posted a screen shot of the email that clearly showed it was sent to 3 members of the Elk Grove media. In the Elk Grove Citizen article, Stafford mentioned that she wants a commission with “teeth”.
Police commissions are generally established as a result of use of force issues. Police commissions are often going to be seen as anti-Police by police officers and members of the community. A commission of citizens, with the luxury of judging an incident after the fact, with no police experience, will second guess the officers. This will prove to be more dangerous for not only the officers but local residents. One need only to look to our north at Sacramento on the effect it has having on their city. Morale in the police department is down. Officers are leaving for other agencies. The city council and community members have been critical of the police officers. Crime is up in Sacramento area. Sacramento’s crime rate is double the national average. I spoke to a police officer who told me that officers are going to be less proactive to avoid getting in situations where they will be second guessed. Also officers may be reluctant to use the force that is necessary for fear of getting in trouble. Being proactive means stopping vehicles for violations, which leads to probation searches, active warrant arrests, getting criminals off the streets and hopefully making them feel less comfortable in Elk Grove. One only needs to look at the daily watch summary to see the number of stops that leads to arrests for various charges.
The Elk Grove Police Department now has body cams on the officers and their vehicles. The video can be used to document any issues that occur. This can protect the officers and the public. There are usually two sides to a story. Often times what people say happens is contradicted by the video. The department does an excellent job for the limited officers it has compared to other agencies. The department is very proactive. Crime in Elk Grove is down, while it up in Sacramento. Just across the city limits there have been numerous homicides in 2017.
The persons promoting this idea have an agenda, that I feel is not in the best interests of Elk Grove residents. Crime is the number one concern for Elk Grove residents. If you connect the dots, the supporters of this idea are a part of the local democratic party and aligned with Sacramento politicians, the Sacramento City Council and Mayor Darrel Steinberg. The Sacramento City Council recently voted on a controversial plan to pay gang members not to use guns while committing crimes. Elk Grove residents were strongly opposed to this in discussions on the Elk Grove Laguna Forums Facebook page. The leading democrat in California, Governor Jerry Brown, and other democrats have backed a number of controversial initiatives that are making our streets less safe. Props 47 & 57, as well as AB 109.
As residents of Elk Grove, do you want these same people to have a say in what happens with the police department in Elk Grove? If you don’t, make your voices heard. Write your city council. The supporters of these ill thought out ideas will be addressing the council in the coming days and weeks to seek approval of their plans. They will attempt to pressure the council. They will bring up racial issues, and portray the police department in a negative light, as they did in the town hall meeting last night.