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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                                       Facebook    Twitter         Blog    
February 5, 2014                           
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Photo of East Palo Alto City Council members during Feb
Photo of the East Palo Alto City Council On February 4, 2014 during
its discussion regarding the outsourcing of the city's police services.


Continued from page 1

“The police department is much more engaged. We stand in solidarity with our police. They’re not perfect," Liotti said. “But they’re ours.”

Other speakers, like Heather Starnes, wanted to know where the idea for outsourcing came from and what prompted it. She too, said that the city had come a long way. “We can’t go back to giving over accountability for our community. This idea would “strip our community of power and force and I’m not for it,” she said.

As one of two speakers who was open to the outsourcing idea, Isaiah Moody said that East Palo Alto could be better and he questioned why when he has seen one person in a car pulled over, at least three police cars show up. He said that this tactic leaves other areas of the city without police protection.

Michael Francois said that if the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department provided the city with safety services they would use the officers who already patrol the city, so officers familiar with the city would still be utilized.

Richard Tatum, who described himself as a young resident, having lived in the city for 40 years, didn’t mince words in telling the council and the staff that the outsourcing idea was a waste of time. He told the council that it had hired staff members who only wanted to enhance their resumes and the outsourcing idea was a sign indicating, “There is something wrong with how the city is going.”

Council members Laura Martinez, Lisa Yarbrough-Gauthier and Larry Moody said that they had the fiduciary responsibility to look into ways that the city could save money and had the obligation to get information as to how the city could  provide police services and at the same time use public dollars wisely, especially since the city was facing a one million dollar deficit.

Bucking the community tide that was overwhelmingly against outsourcing, Moody, praised the city manager for even presenting the idea. He said she would have been remiss if she did not seek other options for reducing the budget deficit. So, he said he supported directing the city staff to gather information about other policing options.

In the end the council was not only swayed by the passionate community speakers it had heard, but also by Council member Ruben Abrica, who argued that if the budget deficit was the main consideration, then the council and the city staff should look at the total budget and not just single out the police department.

He said it was true that the city could save money with outsourcing, but it would lose so much more if it gave up its police department.

Council member Yarbrough-Gauthier who originally advocated for having the staff gather information so that the council could look at the numbers, was instrumental in bringing the discussion to an en., She said that after “hearing from the community, I would not be interested in wasting staff's time.”

With that Abrica made the motion that ended the idea of outsourcing the city’s safety services.

The council voted 4 to 1 to table the idea. Council member Larry Moody cast the one 'no' vote.

With that, the East Palo Alto city staff did not get the city council’s approval to go forward in getting information to outsource the city’s police services. It was a clear win for those who wanted to keep the East Palo Alto Police Department intact.

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Reach the author of this article, Henrietta J. Burroughs, at epatoday@epatoday.org. 

 

East Palo Alto Today Articles:

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Abrica calls for more community input in the November 17, 2013 - December 19, 2013 issue of East Palo Alto Today on the cover page.

A former East Palo Alto police officer comes to Ron Davis' defense

Four East Palo Alto police officers file a complaint charging racial discrimination