Mayor Steinberg got close to $750,000 approved so Sacramento PD could do 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training.
But according to Christine Feenstra, a CPOA staff member during this period, Mark Coopwood invented a CIT course at CPOA in order to receive that money. The classes were incomplete and did not fulfill all of the CIT end-goals. At this point a large portion of that money has been handed to the CPOA.
SPD is preemptively sending out media releases about how its officers are almost completely done with the training. Their management doesn't even know these trainings were insufficient and underdeveloped. But we know, according to CPOA staff, that the officers mentioned never completed 40 hours of training. Even if it says they did so on paper.
We want answers.
Who provided the training? (Because one of the trainers walked out in the middle of week one.)
What were the list of course objectives covered and the learning techniques employed to achieve them?
Where and when was that training provided?
How many hours did the attendees complete?
How many officers attended the training?
How many officers completed the training?
How many officers didn’t complete the training?
How many officers didn’t attend the training at all?
Where did police officers do their 10 hours of onsite visitation of mental health facilities?
What are the consequences for any SPD officers and their supervisors for leaving any aspect of this training incomplete?
If any SPD officers didn’t attend the training is SPD going to pay back the taxpayers?
We’re pretty sure that CPOA isn’t handing any of that money back to City Council.
There's more to the whole story.
Randy Lozoya and John Tennis, in 2016, murdered Joseph Mann. Dash-cam video shows them explicitly trying to run him over in their squad car. Because of this, in 2017, the Sacramento City Council passed a series of potential reforms for the Sacramento Police Department (SPD).
Darrell Steinberg, then newly elected mayor in January of this year, put the right foot forward. He demanded that video collected during officer involved shootings be released publicly within 30 days. That was a step in the right direction. He also proposed that SPD officers attend 40 hours of continued Crisis Intervention Training. City Council, again to their credit, passed this motion unanimously. Before the end of January some $750,000 of taxpayer money had been earmarked for SPD officer training.
But what if that’s not what actually happened?
That money was instead handed over to a lobby group for Law Enforcement Officials (LEOs) called the California Peace Officers Association (CPOA).
The CPOA bylaws make it clear that as an organization they aim to grow the power and reach of LEOs. The bylaws are a laundry list of ways that LEOs are attempting to expand their power, reach, efficiency, and scope. Think clearly about what this means. More officers, more arrests, more inmates, more jails, more corrections officers, more probations, more systemic injustice. These are their goals.
They already have a lot of money; every single SPD officer pays into the CPOA automatically from his/her paycheck, and it wouldn’t surprise if this was likewise true for the Sacramento Sheriff Department. Individual LEOs could opt out, but that’d would be a sort of career suicide.
The CPOA created its own Crisis Intervention Training course in order to grab the money Seinberg and City Council made available.
The problem is the same problem that continues to plague our police and sheriff’s departments.
Where’s the oversight?
What happens if officers don’t complete, engage with, or even attend the training? What are the consequence? Who’s tracking this information? How do we make it public?
Those are, after all, our tax dollars being spent.
On the CPOA board, which reads like trigger warning list of LEOs who abuse their power, one of the common threads is Sacramento. Current President Mark Coopwood is from Sac. John McGinness, who has publicly said “blacks did much, much, much, much better” before Civil Rights, is or was a Deputy Director. The CPOA Treasurer is Erik Maness! Erik Maness who as Undersheriff was found directly liable for workplace harassment of multiple female deputies and damages of $3.6 million plus legal fees of $5.3 million all paid for by county tax payers. (This is the man they trusting as Treasurer, really?) One Past President is a 33 year veteran of SPD, Rick Braziel, who is now Inspector General and in charge of Sac Sheriff oversight. (Again, really?) The Immediate Past President is Sheriff Scott Jones. Enough said.
But what does any of this have to do with training?
Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is a real, legitimate thing. It’s a valuable model for community policing. Since 1987, police departments have been using CIT. SPD already has an eight hour CIT “awareness” training. However, not everyone thinks highly of it. The main detractors to CIT are voiced from LEOs, and those detractions have to do with mental episodes that might “turn violent.”
Here we need to take a step back and ask what “turn violent” means. A fear of physical safety is the minimum legal hurdle an LEO must prove in order to use his/her side arm. The feeling of fear, for an officer, is enough to unload multiple bullets at another person. We don’t need to be historians to recognize this logic.
The most prominent example from our current era were the words of Darren Wilson. Wilson saw Mike Brown as violent, that his body possessed the capacity for violence because of its size and blackness. And so Darren Wilson shot Mike Brown. And because Darren Wilson legally feared for his safety, he walked free. That sequence replayed itself all over the country during the Obama years as again and again officers walked after killing Black civilians. The law and justice, we must tragically and constantly remind ourselves, are not the same.
If they were, BLM wouldn’t need to exist.
CIT is problematic for LEOs who sees the public as violent because that violent perception allows LEOs to act violently. CIT training operates differently than this tautology. Because of this, LEOs see it as a threat. It’s a threat to their very real and very violent seat of power. If LEOs utilize CIT and they empathize with instead of fear another person they’re confronting, then they’re legally liable for their own actions. This is what those detractors mean when they worry about mental health episodes that “turn violent.”
An interaction where CIT is utilized eliminates an officer’s ability to utilize violence. This is what they’re afraid of, and this is exactly why CIT is necessary. The only authority LEO’s have, at the end of the day is violence—psychological (power), physical (use of force or jail), and financial (fines and bail).
It’s also problematic because the majority of the people in prison today are suffering from mental illness. That is to say, the majority of LEO interactions are in direct confrontation with/against individuals suffering from and struggling with mental illness.
Yet these same LEOs are explicitly saying, they don’t want this training. LEOs would rather retain their legal right to shoot civilians with mental illness than learn how to deescalate their most frequent encounters without deploying their own violent means.
LEOs are agents of the state, and they dole out the state’s whims on the public, and it’s clear in this era that the state, from the President to the rookie sheriff of Sacramento, has a monopoly on violence. The cases are too numerous to count. Because the state owns a monopoly on violence, it likewise cannot admit to its own violence. Amerikkka is the least violent country, we’re told all through school, and every survey level American History 101 university course debunks all 12 years of our public school education. But not everyone makes it to universities, the majority learn the truth of this world by other means.
What we know today, sadly, is the same as it ever was.
For the police, Crisis Intervention is a gun.