The Las Positas College Administration of Justice Program held a virtual meeting called “Community Voices – Re imaging Policy” on April 29. The meeting’s goal was to involve the community on modifying the curriculum taught by the Administration of Justice program. One focus of the meeting highlighted by audience members was increased communication with the community and police.
Although it was not specifically stated, the meeting appeared to be a result of the highly visible deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright and in Alameda Mario Gonzalez. It was hosted by Winston Ashby, Executive Director of the Parti (Positive Alternative Recreation Team Building Impact), a program to promote education around youth healthy lifestyles and healthy decision making.
In opening remarks LPC president Dyrell Foster had mentioned that Las Positas College has a presidential task force looking at student equity and success, campus climate, programs and support, professional development and curriculum. Foster also said that the state is mandating community colleges to look at how they train police and other first responders.
The 56 attendees included the Vice Mayor of Livermore, Trish Munro,, representatives from the Livermore and Pleasanton police, Administration of Justice faculty and dean, an Assistant District Attorney of Alameda County, and about 20 students and community members.
Ashby began the program by asking several questions about police interactions and asked the audience to give their reaction in the chat. One question was “Should people in the community have policing and oversight of first responders who are responsible for our safety?”
Mike McQuiston, Administration of Justice professor at LPC, discussed the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing commissioned by President Obama in 2014. The task force made over 60recommendations, including “Communities should support a culture and practice of policing that reflects the values of protection and promotion of dignity.”
After the question period, Ashby said he was in high school during the beating, trial and verdict of Rodney King, and the resultant riots made an impact on him, which was why he was participating in the meeting. He then asked the participants why they were at the meeting. Most responses were that they see a need for change in policing.
Currently 81% of the police departments in the US only require a high school diploma to be a police officer, according to McQuiston California has looser standards as a GED or equivalent will also satisfy the requirement. Once a person attends and graduates from the police academy, they then serve as a police officer.
Las Positas currently has an AA degree in Administration of Justice. McQuiston proposed adding a certificate program on 21st century policing policy. The target student would be a police officer with 3 to 10 years of experience.
After the plan was presented, the audience was solicited for comments. Arturo Rosas, a policeman in Livermore, liked the content. Isabella David, who is on City Council’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion Task Force, stated the curriculum needs to include situational decision making skills.
Wanda Hunter, a Livermore resident for over 20 years, said that she has been stopped by the police sometimes simply for being in the wrong neighborhood and asked why she was in that neighborhood. She stated that the police are no different now than 20 years ago. Racial profiling still happens, and the police are not very approachable.
Erick Bell, Dean of Public Safety at Las Positas, said, “We are making our best effort to effect change so we are not talking about this 20 years from now. This is our moment to inform the education of the next leaders of law enforcement. This also helps change the culture.”The meeting ended with the Vice Mayor Munro stating, “The concept of the flexible mind—that we can learn and grow and that is a strength—underlies this program, and that is wonderful.” Most participants remarked that it was a good meeting and more meetings such as this should be held. No future meetings are currently scheduled.