The Los Altos City Council delayed a vote to establish a Citizens’ Task Force to review and make recommendations on the police department’s policies and procedures at its Tuesday (June 23) meeting, opting instead to hold a town hall in the wake of a nationwide discussion on police brutality.
Mayor Jan Pepper and Vice Mayor Neysa Fligor presented the resolution, which included a $50,000 budget for an expert consultant to facilitate the task force meetings. But the other three council members expressed an unwillingness to move forward immediately. Instead, after several public comments doubting the effectiveness of a task force and calling for the city to release data showing the racial breakdown of police arrests, Pepper pledged to ask for the data and hold a town hall.
“Do not pass this,” said Kenan Moos, a graduate of Los Altos High School and a member of the social activist group Justice Vanguard. “This is not what we asked for. This only highlights the issues and disparities that we already know exist in our police department.”
Moos urged the council to “stop making decisions without talking to us.” The population of Blacks or African Americans in Los Altos makes up 0.4% of the demographic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
After listening as residents spoke out, Councilwoman Anita Enander said she wanted to pass something the community would consider credible. She encouraged council members to “do no harm.”
“If we’re going to do this, we don’t want to make things worse,” Enander said. “We want to make things better. I would advocate that we’re not ready to make a decision here tonight, except to go back and rethink the way to get this thing started the right way. Maybe the way to get things started the right way is to pull together the data and information the community members have asked for.”
Pepper said she wanted to move quickly on creating the task force so as not to lose momentum. But it was clear the mayor and vice mayor did not have the unanimous support they sought.
The Los Altos council discussion followed several local resolutions on police reform. The Mountain View City Council adopted an official city resolution “proclaiming Black Lives Matter.” The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors also voted unanimously to approve several reforms surrounding policing, use of force and emergency response policies.