Police Reform and Community Policing
On June 17, 2020 the Mayor of Los Gatos, Marcia Jensen, signed the Obama Foundation’s Mayor Pledge, committing to the following actions:
- Review Police Department Use of Force Policies.
- Engage the community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in the review.
- Report the findings of the review to the community and seek feedback.
- Reform the community’s Police Department Use of Force Policies.
On September 8, 2020 the Town hosted a Community Workshop regarding Police Practices and potential changes were reviewed and discussed with community input at the September 15, 2020 and November 3, 2020 Town Council meetings. The Town Council approved a number of Police Department reforms.
On November 3, 2020, the Los Gatos Town Council unanimously authorized the Town Manager to establish an Independent Police Auditor (IPA) function with a preference given for retired attorneys or judges and no more than two former Police command staff. The Police Chief may see the reports but cannot alter them and quarterly updates shall be provided to the Town Council and the community. On February 19, 2021, a Request for Qualifications for Independent Police Auditor Services was released. On May 18, 2021, the Town Council authorized the Town Manager to execute agreements with Burke, Williams & Sorensen, Richards Watson & Gershon, and the Renne Public Law Group for Independent Police Auditor Investigation Services. The staff report and attachments (including each of the proposals) can be viewed here. All Police Department complaints are now submitted directly to the Clerk Department and facilitated by the Town Attorney. The rotating panel of independent investigators will be reviewing public and internal complaints regarding Police conduct. For more details and to access the submittal form, visit www.LosGatosCA.gov/PoliceComplaints.
The Town Council also unanimously agreed to ask staff to work with the County of Santa Clara regarding responses to mental health and homeless calls for service, with the understanding that response times will be reviewed annually to monitor how well the County positions are staffed and response times to the Town’s calls for service.
The Council unanimously voted to acknowledge the timeline for police stop data availability and transparency. The data includes time, date, and location of the stop; reason and resulting action of the stop; perceived race or ethnicity, gender and approximate age of the person stopped (based solely on observation as officers are disallowed from requesting the information); etc. and will be collated for presentation to the Town Council and the public. In August 2021, the Police Department presented the first report to the Town Council and launched a new Police Transparency and Data Page with easily accessible information regarding:
- Stop data
- Hate crimes and hate incidents
- Mental health
- Crime statistics
- Use of force
- CA Public Records Act
Additionally, Town Council unanimously agreed to ask staff to consider adding a limited dated Community Service Officer position to the Town’s budget process for the 2021/2022 fiscal year.
The Town Council considered a quarterly update on all Police Reforms on March 16, 2021 (see "Council Actions" for details).
On October 19, 2021, the Council unanimously voted to authorize the Town Manager to execute a service agreement with Silicon Valley Ambulance, Inc. as a one-year pilot program for transportation services of juvenile patients placed on an involuntary mental health evaluation hold. The ambulance company will provide dedicated service for the transportation of juveniles placed on involuntary mental health holds (under 5150 of the Welfare and Institutions Code) to psychiatric treatment facilities instead of an Officer transporting the juvenile in crisis in a marked patrol vehicle.
Also in October 2021, at Council's direction, the Police Department implemented an Assistive Therapy Canine Program to enhance employee wellness, assist in the response and follow up of mental health and trauma related incidents, and serve as another tool in the promotion of positive community outreach and engagement. This collateral duty assignment will work closely with the Department’s Victim’s Services Unit, Peer Support Team, School Resource Officer, Community Outreach Coordinator, and Vulnerable Communities Response Team.
Also at Council's direction, in the fall of 2021, the Police Department was awarded a California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Innovations Grant which was used to purchase a virtual reality (VR) training system. The VR system will be primarily used to train Officers in de-escalation of force techniques. It also has the capability to modify the mental status of the VR characters and scenarios to simulate a mental health crisis. This simulation training tool will be incorporated as both perishable skills and advanced sworn officer annual training in compliance with California POST requirements. The Department is one of a few agencies in the County to receive the POST Innovations Grant and implement this VR Simulation/De-Escalation System.
In May 2022, the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department initiated specific events and programs throughout 2022 to enhance community policing. Community policing has been a long-standing framework for establishing trust, exchange of information and transparency, and a positive engagement between law enforcement and the community. Community policing is used to involve the community in public safety and gain an understanding of specific community concerns and create positive proactive policing methods to meet the needs of the community
The community policing programs and opportunities include Coffee with a Cop, the Therapy Dog Program, a Community Police Academy, Walk with a Cop, and staff support of Special Olympics activities. These engagements are identified on the lower portion of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Community Policing logo to promote these events throughout the year on the Department website, social media, or other communications. These engagements are integral to building respect, community-police partnerships, and developing a better-informed vision of public safety needs and responses.
The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department is committed to enhancing community policing efforts through these specific engagement opportunities. Police presence and trust is fundamental to maintaining peaceful order to the community. It is the realization of public and police sharing a space in congruence, building relationships, with a focus on common goals. These community- police interactions help to bridge the gap and implement the LGMSPD mission to be collaborative problem solvers.
For more information regarding the Police Department Community Policing, visit www.losgatosca.gov/2261/Community-Policing.