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Guest opinion: Reform MVPD now

Original post made on Jun 28, 2020

In an op-ed, Mountain View resident Salim Damerdji calls on the city of Mountain View to reform the police department.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, June 28, 2020, 7:37 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by Reality vs fantasy
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 9:51 am

ANOTHER one? Though this latest writer doesn't mention it, in the last week, Voice readers had a prior Opinion piece on the same theme Web Link plus a featured editorial letter Web Link .

All these writers share both passionate rhetoric, and inability to step back and examine the assumptions and implications of the criticisms they advocate. Steps prerequisite to influencing real-world outcomes. Where the measure of success is what actually happens, not what sounds good right now to you or your friends.

Posted by Just in case
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 28, 2020 at 10:42 am

Just like the police have assault rifles and drones "just in case", so too do we need better transparency and accountability, "just in case".

Posted by hiiii
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 28, 2020 at 11:05 am

@Reality vs fantasy -- have you considered that the fact that so many people are laying out different arguments that reach the same thing means perhaps large parts of your community disagree with you?

It seems like you need to reflect on your own "inability to step back and examine the assumptions and implications" of what you believe. They seem to have already questioned the basic assumptions our society ingrains into us (like that police are generally good or our city council generally represents us)

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 28, 2020 at 11:22 am

Great that questions are being asked. Candidates for city council often seek police (and fire) union endorsements and then ask few questions as office-holders. I suggested early on that anyone with a specific complaint about the MV police (who is willing to be known) should write the city council - not the police department. The complaint will then go to the police department for a response and become part of the public record that can be accessed by activists and voters. As to changing policies and procedures, study is required. Do not expect any councilmember endorsed by the local police union to seriously consider mandating any changes. Unless there are some candidates who favor changes, there will be no debate and no choice of any candidates who might be better councilmembers (on these subjects) than we have.

Posted by Reality vs fantasy
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 1:08 pm

hiiii: Have YOU in turn considered that three Opinion pieces hardly bespeak "large parts of your community?" You could equally (and with greater numerical weight) have pointed out the many more Voice comments lately supporting MVPD, offering positive anecdotes, and questioning bizarre offhand suggestions for "reform." Even if you (or everyone you know) is persuaded as you are, that's far from any consensus whatever (however much human ego prefers to perceive it so).

The history of public-policy discussion (and these same Comments pages) is CROWDED with earnest proposals that would, and sometimes actually do, lead to ineffective, even counter-effective, results -- and even though their flaws or outright fatuity were obvious from the start, to those seeing them from outside the reassuring bubble of being swept up the blindness of your own convictions.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 2:42 pm

The writer is a 24 year old who mostly has lived in Los Altos. This is an example of a lack of perspective. These inexperienced kids don't know the amount of social services budget there is in the state of California. Comparison to Eugene Oregon is completely invalid, because in California we have a large social services network provided at the county level. Our police officers aren't the only interface to homeless on the streets. In fact, in Mountain View the city has directed that the police department treat vehicle dwellers with kid gloves and avoid interactions with them. Only recently through a genuine uproar from the citizenry has the city council sought to address the congestion of months-long vehicle dwelling on city streets. The chief argument has been that these dwellers ARE NOT causing many problems and NOT taking much police time to manage.

The author provides no research to suggest that police in Mountain View are engaged in social services support, e.g. mental health interactions, arrests or referrals. Yet there is this assertion that it might reduce 17% of its calls like Eugene Oregon did. There is no basis to believe this. In this county, people needing help for non-criminal matters don't have to call 911. They can call 211 and be referred to a huge array of services which avoids their need to fall back on the police. One would really need to collect data and analyze it before making such recommendations blindly about how to redirect the MV police budget.

Sorry, Mountain View is no Eugene Oregon. The average yearly income in one is THREE times that in the other and there is a corresponding difference in tax revenue and social services budgets. The unfortunate could always use more help, but the argument that it would cost effective to divert the police funding to any degree needs careful analysis, largely because there is so much greater public dedication to social services ALREADY. And, then there is the private resources from agencies like CSA or CHAC which is PRIVATELY FUNDED due to the largesse available through the high incomes of the local residents. Consider that the low income safety net here is much less dependent on police spending.

Posted by Reality vs fantasy
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 3:18 pm

But Observer, you are applying hard facts and healthy skepticism. Those aren't the currencies of most local advocacy I've seen lately on this topic (such as this Opinion piece's author). Those advocates will probably dismiss your analysis too, because they don't like where it leads.

Posted by Mt View Resident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 28, 2020 at 3:48 pm

As a 10 year resident of Mountain View, I would like to chime in my support for the Mountain View Police Department. I had occasion last year to see the MVPD in action dealing with an urgent situation, and they were professional, exemplary, and very effective. Reading about all the chaos around the country after the horrible murder of George Floyd, I am very thankful to live in a city with an effective, professional police force. I have spent significant time in a country that does not have a credible police force. Anyone who earned any wealth for their family became an immediate target of local crime rings, and those rings operated with complete impunity with regard to the police. I would like to thank John McAlister and the City Council for maintaining the MVPD budget.

I understand that a number of residents are speaking passionately about de-funding the MVPD. They certainly do *not* represent my views as a 10 year resident. I encourage the Council to maintain funding levels for the MVPD, and to continuously and proactively look for ways to make it even more safe, fair-minded, and effective.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 28, 2020 at 8:55 pm

I would like to echo the support of the Mountain View police department. I have seen no evidence that they are anything but professional.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 12:06 am

Another thing to consider is that state law began to require training for all Peace officer in the state as to the issue of implicit bias. Then last year
that requirement was strengthened and expanded so that training happens every 2 years. Some of the local twentysomethings talk about how things were when they were in high school, which would be before this training and this realization started to be manifested within police departments. Also, since 2013, besides the many state-wide sources of social services funding, Santa Clara county has had an extra 1/8 % sales tax

Posted by Joe
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jun 29, 2020 at 12:42 am

I was pulled over a few years ago by a Mountain View PIG. His buddy stood 20 feet behind my car with his hand on his GUN while I gave my license and registration. I hadn't done anything wrong, and no ticket was issued. He just wanted to yell and bully. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by Fred
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 29, 2020 at 8:42 am

Increased police funding. Police are not the problem. No matter how nasty police have been, they are only reflecting the directions of our leaders. Police are victims of the same systems that victimize the rest of us. Many decades ago Richard Nixon, for purely political reasons, told the nations police to crack down on those pot smoking hippies. With long hair and an old truck I was pulled over with surprising regularity by COPS of every city on the peninsula. It was very educational. While a bit infuriating at times I felt sorry for most. They were simply doing what the president of the United States was telling them to do. The Highway Patrol and the Palo Alto police remained professional, courteous and business like. The rest did what they were told to do. Most who did attempt to harass seemed uncomfortable with the task. Some may have enjoyed being mean and nasty but I still felt sorry for them.
Please consider watching this TED talk, "End the War on Drugs for Good | Christina Dent | TEDxJackso"
And please support our local police. They are our employees, we are their employers. We are responsible for their wellbeeing.

Posted by Jake O.
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 29, 2020 at 3:05 pm

It’s always entertaining to read stories and comments from people, that have no clue on how law enforcement works, giving their opinion on how they should be doing their job.

Posted by Bobbo
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 29, 2020 at 5:44 pm

All I know is that over the years, I've had at least three of my Latino employees stopped and held for questioning, with no real reason for stopping them other than wanting to know what they were doing walking in the area. Or the standard abuse excuse by many police departments, "You fit the profile of someone we're looking for". Regarding the latter, I've told employees to ask an officer to verify an ongoing case number should they be stopped in the future.
As much as I appreciate the protection and actions of MVPD, as related to my business (caught a person who vandalized my business), more work needs to be done on the profiling by certain officers in the ranks.

Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 29, 2020 at 6:50 pm

Stop hammering away on the police
It’s a super difficult job dealing with problem people or trying to stop crime
Do you ever make mistakes, you do of course, well the police can make mistakes as well and remember they keep criminals at bay and will response when you need them. Yes when I was young they stopped me a few times some of which there seemed to be no reason, in every case I understood and didn’t get upset. I just talked to them and made them laugh and seldom got a ticket but always I learned something.
Help the police, if they have less money for staffing in some cases you will have to defend yourself
Are you willing to be always on the alert and respond with just right of legal force to protect yourself and subdue the person who is about to steal from you or worse
You wouldn’t have a chance of accomplishing the exact correct way to stop crime
Stop writing nonsense letters

Posted by Old Fuddy Duddy
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 7:56 pm

Sure, MVPD had been doing a great job and we can praise them and be proud of them and be thankful for them. Suggesting a reform of their policies and procedures doesn't need to be predicated on any failures, but it could be a good proactive step to take. Recent events external to MV highlight a need in this country to self examine. This is not a bad thing. It could be a great opportunity to avoid future problems. This is an opportunity. And as patriotic Americans, this is a responsibility we have to work towards a more perfect Union, establish Justice and ensure domestic tranquility. So let's not round up the wagons. Let's conduct a review, ask for public input, etc. Maybe we'll find out how awesome our MVPD is, and also maybe there are a couple of things we can do better.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:56 am

The premise in this piece is premised on a lie or at least a misleading premise.
Look at the Police budget for Palo Alto. 85 Million recently cut to $77 Million. It's a smaller city and Stanford has its own peace officers. Mountain View's police budget is about half as big. So, you could maybe divert 10% from the police budget in Palo Alto, because it has so much more than Mountain View.

Consider Berkeley. They too are talking about diverting 9% of their budget to social programs. Their budget? $75 Million, again nearly double what is the budget in Mountain View. The population in Berkeley is 120,000 which is larger than Mountain View but 40,000 are part of the UC Berkeley campus which has its own
police department. So there again, a cut to $75 Million is not the same as a cut to $43 Million, where the population is roughly the same or even slightly larger.

So this blind talk of "reform" is really mostly premised on budget diversions to social programs, where there is not enough budget to divert. Plus there are already many social programs in Mountain View but they are part of various county budgets,
as opposed to any department of the city.

Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 30, 2020 at 4:09 pm

As is typical, when we have any issue regarding the police, activists want to burn the entire system down. I would like to remind those people that we have 800,000 law enforcement officers in this country. They put in about 1.5 billion hours of work every single year to keep people safe. Every single day, they go to work knowing that it is possible that they won't make it home that night. Their reward for those risks are to be verbally abused, spit on, turned away from restaurants and many other forms of abuse that you wouldn't tolerate toward ANYONE else. The vast majority of those officers good, decent people who dedicate (and sometimes sacrifice) their lives to protect others. Is it really, in any way, just to punish all those people for the actions of one man?

It is about time that we start realizing that there are bad apples in EVERY profession you can name. NOBODY I have spoken to in the last weeks condones what happened to George Floyd, not one single person. The officers involved in the incident need to to be held to account and they will be. However, I do not understand how any sane person could attempt to justify punishing the officers of the MVPD (or any other department, for that matter) for the actions of those four men. If you want to throw around phrases like "Defund the Police" then you had better be prepared to deal with the same situations we are seeing in places that have actually moved in that direction. I would prefer NOT to have a five-fold increase in homicide because someone thinks it's a good idea to punish good cops for the actions of bad ones.

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