Tag Archives: Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Grand jury: Solano cops, sheriff deputies need more frequent diversity, bias training

Grand Jury: The No. 1 recommendation is for county law enforcement agencies to adopt a more frequent schedule of diversity and bias training
Vallejo Times-Herald, by Richard Bammer, July 9, 2021

The 2020-21 Solano County civil grand jury found that local law enforcement agencies comply with legal requirements when providing diversity and bias training, but jurors also noted that such training is only required every five years – and that needs to change, jurors said.

In a nine-page document issued June 30, titled “Does Bias Infiltrate Solano County Law Enforcement?” the grand jury pointed out that local police and Sheriff’s Office leaders agreed there is “too much time between training sessions” and its primary recommendation is for county law enforcement agencies adopt a more frequent schedule of diversity and bias training “over and above the current five-year requirement.”

In their one-paragraph summary, jurors found that police officers and deputies followed the guidelines defined by law, established through the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST.

But after jury members interviewed officers and police chiefs in six major cities and Sheriff’s personnel – and reviewed each agency’s policies – they found that operating “in accord with the POST guidelines is not enough,” according to the report.

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Local policing agencies “must go further to ensure elimination of bias as well as safety and equity for the citizens of Solano County,” they concluded.

In a second finding, jurors cited a lack of “adequate funding” hinders the various agencies’ ability to provide additional and more frequent training, recommending that law enforcement leaders seek more dollars for diversity and bias training. At the same time, the grand jury also recommended that the county’s police departments and the Sheriff’s Office collaborate in providing such training.

A third finding indicated that the grand jury believes more “underrepresented people,” that is, ethnic minorities, need to be in decision-making roles, recommending that law enforcement agencies “promote more underrepresented people to decision making positions.”

In a lengthy fourth finding, the grand jury cited state Penal Code section 13651, which, in short, states that police and sheriff’s offices that review job descriptions used to recruit peace officers “shall make changes that emphasize community-based policing, familiarization between law enforcement and community residents, and collaborative problem solving, while de-emphasizing the paramilitary aspects of the job.” Jury members also discovered that “all administrators mentioned the general population’s lack of trust of law enforcement officers.”

Grand jurors, thus, recommended that training de-emphasize a paramilitary approach to policing and collaborate with community organizations to problem-solve.

“Employee turnover” is a problem “for some” law enforcement agencies, they found in a fifth finding, recommending specifically that Suisun City increase the length of its employment contract to five years and find ways to achieve pay equity in the county to limit turnover in smaller communities.

In the sixth and final finding, the grand jury noted reports from the FBI that extremist groups are “infiltrating” law enforcement agencies.

“While local law enforcement agencies investigate applicants as part of the vetting process, they rely on employee and citizen complaints to identify current staff social media postings for extremist ideology,” according to the report’s wording.

Jurors made three recommendations: 1) that county law enforcement agencies monitor social media postings by current staff for extremist content; 2) that law enforcement leaders “keep up with the technology that their employees are using”; and 3) that law enforcement leaders “research and implement technology” which assists in monitoring social media without violating First Amendment rights under the Constitution.

Download the report: “Does Bias Infiltrate Solano County Law Enforcement?

The grand jury’s report, one of several recently issued, comes as the Black Lives Matter movement has gained prominence in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last month for Floyd’s May 25, 2020, murder.

Floyd was detained after trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. During the arrest, Chauvin knelt on his neck for some nine minutes as Floyd, face down on street pavement, cried out that he could not breathe.

It was an example, whether or not bias was involved, of how routine encounters can escalate or turn deadly, as they did with the police killings of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., both in 2014, among many others.

Police training and programs that focus on implicit bias have emerged as a key component of police reform efforts nationwide in an effort to engender trust in policing.

Besides interviewing officers, deputies law enforcement agency leaders, grand jury members relied on numerous reports, including “Can Cops Unlearn Their Unconscious Biases?” a 2017 Atlantic article; a report by the Brookings Institution about how the U.S. is diversifying even faster than predicted; and a report from openvallejo.org, an online newsroom, reporting that Solano County Sheriff’s deputies and a Vacaville City Council member potentially promoted anti-government militia, including the posting of Three Percenter imagery on their public social media pages.

Additionally, they noted an April 18, 2021, segment of “60 Minutes” investigated the Oath Keepers, an identified extremist group, and their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. “A leader of the Oath Keepers in Arizona proudly proclaimed they have many members in police forces around their state,” jurors wrote in the report.

Research organizations such as the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability and Fairness in Law Enforcement and the Plain View Project have uncovered hundreds of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials participating in racist, nativist, and sexist social media activity. “Departments often know about these officers’ activities, but those activities have only resulted in disciplinary action or termination if they trigger public concern,” according to the report.

In its “statement of facts” section of the report, jurors wrote: “The biggest problem in addressing possible biases is that unconscious biases are part of growing up in an atmosphere in which stereotypes are part of everyday life (the thinking we are exposed to as children influences how we interpret events and people around us).”

“Researchers have found that people can consciously embrace fairness and equality, but on tests measuring subconscious tendencies, they still lean on stereotypes in profiling people they don’t know,” jurors added.

“The results can be surprising for those that do not feel they have any biases,” the grand jury report indicated.

Recent Anti-racism letters in the Benicia Herald

Collecting our thoughts here on the BenIndy…

By Roger Straw, June 29, 2021

Check out the growing number of letters sent in to our local print newspaper, the Benicia Herald: strong calls for racial justice, offers of praise where deserved, decrying of local incidents of racism, and opposition to racial bias and expressions of white supremacy.

Below is today’s listing of collected letters.  Check back regularly for new letters at the BenIndy Anti-Racism Letters page.


Benicia is definitely NOT the happy little totally progressive, inclusive community many of us have long thought it was.  Racism is real in Benicia.  See the following letters which appeared in the print edition of the Benicia Herald, and a few from the Vallejo Times-Herald(And check out Benicia Black Lives Matter: Our Voices, also published here and in the Benicia Herald.)

Benicia Herald letters on racism
Date Author Link to letter
Sunday, June 27, 2021 Brandon Greene Equity Training & Critical Race Theory – Open Letter to Solano County Board of Supervisors – Board discussion ‘disappointing but not surprising’.
Sunday, June 27, 2021 Craig Snider Reflections on Systemic Racism and White Privilege – We Can Do Better.
Friday, June 25, 2021 June Mejias Fairytale? Myth? Lie – (The children are watching & listening) – Definitions for Our Times.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 Carrie Rehak I Can’t Breathe – Refinery fumes, George Floyd and COVID-19.
Sunday, June 13, 2021 Kathy Kerridge Implicit Bias or Outright Racism – Racism is alive and well in Benicia.
Sunday, June 13, 2021 Jean Walker Shine a Light on Solano County Sheriff – Open letter to Board of Supervisors.
Sunday, May 23, 2021 Roger Straw Intensive Care for Benicia – I See You Differently Now – A white American’s deepening awareness of Black lives.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021 Mark Christian Silence is Complicity – America not a place of liberty & justice for all, Sheriff and Solano supervisors complicit.
Sunday, May 2, 2021 C. Bart Sullivan, Esq. A World Without Prejudice Requires Vigilance – Early childhood innocence, BLM, Local writer with head in sand.
Friday, April 30, 2021 Vicki Byrum Dennis SURJ / BBLM Study & Action Course – How can whites become allies? History, racial injustice is systemic. SURJ invitation.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Susan Street Off the Mark As Usual – Local writer missing the mark, praising City leadership, racism is real.
Sunday, April 25, 2021 Jean Walker What Can I Do to Make Racism Go Away in Benicia? – Racism is systemic, white privilege, pleased with City Resolution 20, critical of appointments, SURJ.
Friday, April 23, 2021 Nathalie Christian White Supremacy Is Not a Cancer, It Is a Choice – Jan. 6 in D.C., Sheriff’s deputies, call to action.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Benicia Mayor Steve Young On the Hate-Crime & Arrest Last Weekend – Racism in Benicia, Raley’s incident, racial bias conscious and unconscious, City took first steps Equity Mgr, we can do better.
Sunday, April 18, 2021 Ralph Dennis Two Peas in a Pod – Raley’s incident, Sheriff investigation 2 peas in a pod.  Be an ally, don’t blame BLM or City hiring of Equity Mgr.
Contact the Benicia Herald – write your own letter!

To add your voice, write to Benicia Herald editor Galen Kusic at beniciaherald@gmail.com.  Note that the Benicia Herald’s online edition is not currently being maintained.  To subscribe to the print edition, email beniciacirculation@gmail.com or phone 707-745-6838.  Main phone line is 707-745-0733; fax is 707-745-8583.  Mail or stop by in person at 820 First St., Benicia, 94510.  (Not sure of days and hours.)

Solano County Board of Supes ‘not ready for topics that deal with the ugly underbelly of America’

Danette Mitchell: Is Solano County ready for a serious race discussion?

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Danette Mitchell, June 25, 2021

While many companies understand that discrimination is wrong — both legally and morally — do employers want diversity and inclusion, or do they want comfort and assimilation?

Last week’s lengthy Solano County Board of Supervisors discussion about a specific Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training became heated, sending a message that they are not ready for topics that deal with the ugly underbelly of America.

While discussing racism is an uncomfortable topic, we can’t talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion and not address race. Supervisor Erin Hannigan and human resource leadership presented a proposal to have Jei Africa, director of Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, conduct a series of equity training workshops to address race, racism, racialization, White privilege, and implicit bias.

Hannigan attended the training. She believes the education would provide the board with foundational knowledge and an understanding of the terminology from a historical perspective, adding that the topics are uncomfortable. The training would also include the history of slavery, redlining, Jim Crow, and immigration, concluding with becoming an anti-racist/multicultural organization.

Hannigan also stated that the training would help with discussions around policies, equity, and procedures because they would all speak from the same playbook. Hannigan added that city employees should see the board taking the lead on the equity training.

Supervisor Monica Brown feels the training for board members should be voluntary. She also feels the training should be embedded with other training like sexual harassment and ethics. I believe her suggestion would minimize the topics’ seriousness and shorten the training, potentially reducing the effectiveness and impact. We are dealing with a deeply rooted system that legislated and enacted inequalities that persist today. The training should be mandatory for board members.

Supervisor Mitch Mashburn supports the equity training. However, he feels the LGBTQ community and all other ethnic groups, including gender, should be discussed as well. If you support the population, specifically Black people, that has been the most marginalized, others benefit. Race will intersect with the LGBTQ community, Latinos and Asians, but not the opposite. The Black community has many examples of this, like affirmative action, which primarily benefited White women, and the Immigration Act, which pushed Black people, as a collective group, further down the economic and opportunity ladder.

Supervisor Jim Spering stated he is fully committed to equity. He also said he didn’t want one person’s perspective on history and didn’t harbor White guilt, because he has worked hard. Nonetheless, he is still the beneficiary of a system of privilege. Also, the effects of slavery in America are in our DNA, manifesting in behaviors and attitudes.

No doubt, varied emotions often surface when discussing race-related topics. Supervisor Board Chairman John Vasquez was triggered when Hannigan mentioned she lived a life of White privilege, to which he responded, “So you are going to come in and save my life?” He is undecided about the training and would like to wait on responses to the employee survey before committing. His stance appeared to be the consensus of the rest of the board.

Meanwhile, Hannigan commented, “Maybe this is not the right board for equity for this county.” She and Vasquez serve on the Ad Hoc Equity Board Subcommittee formed in 2020 to address employee equity.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are a 450-year-old set of problems that won’t be solved overnight. We are dealing with generations of ingrained behaviors, attitudes, and fears.

Nonetheless, employers want to hear the lyrics of “We Shall Overcome” — not “Strange Fruit,” describing the lynching of Black people.

Danette Mitchell — The Vacaville author is a social issues advocate.