SACRAMENTO (CBS) – Changes could soon be made to Sacramento police departments policy in an effort to increase diversity.
Thoughts and ideas from years of discussion are now being put on paper.
“We have to get beyond talking now and actually get to some policy change,” said Les Simmons.
Simmons is a local pastor and the head of the Sacramento Community Police Commission. The commission was created a year ago as a bridge between the police department and the people they serve.
On Monday, the commission approved more than 14 recommendations that will be presented to the city council on December 6th. The council will then work with the City Manager to create police department policy.
Their recent task was to find ways to improve diversity hiring and retention within the Sacramento Police department.
“Every department should reflect the diversity, wonderful diversity within Sacramento,” said Simmons.
According to the most recent numbers from the City Auditor, the Sacramento police department is 70 percent white, while the city’s population is 35 percent white.
“What we need to do is do better outreach. Find candidates that are diverse and get them to apply,” said Tim Davis, the President of the Sacramento Police Officer’s Association,
“One of the biggest struggles we’ve had is we’re the lowest paid police department in the region,” continued Davis.
At Monday’s meeting, Davis proposed an addition to the recommendations. It includes ensuring pay and benefits are sufficient to recruit and retain diverse candidates.
“With a pay 17% lower than sheriff’s department and 29% lower than comparables, it’s nearly impossible to retain people,” said Davis.
Davis says 18 officers have left the department in 2016 for bigger paychecks elsewhere; 15 officers left last year for similar reasons.
“Before our contract, which was a pay cut, went into effect, we lost about four (officers) a year,” said Davis explaining that the department is still recovering from the recession and cutbacks.
Davis says cadet class diversity is inching forward. And Simmons says the new police chief needs to continue with the all-inclusive mission.
“That chief has to reflect the interest of the entire community,” said Simmons.
The commission was in full agreement that the community needed to be involved in the police chief search as soon as possible.
The next meeting will be on December 6th when the recommendations are presented to council.