Ryan Bell: Pasadena Needs Independent Civilian Oversight of PPD, and More!

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

an aerial view of building with red roofs

Pasadena City Hall (Photo – Pasadena Police Department).

Ryan Bell, a Pasadena City Commissioner, an activist at Pasadena Tenants Union, and a former candidate for District 6, sent the following public comment to city leaders:

Dear Mayor and members of the City Council,

It is with great sadness and more than a little anger that I write yet again in support of strong, independent civilian oversight of the Pasadena Police Department. Please do not allow the few who would stall, talk only of what can’t be done, or speak about how this process is too hasty, derail this process.

There is nothing hasty about this process. In the modern area the city began talking about police oversight over four years ago. Black people in this city have been abused, pushed around, displaced, murdered, and generally mistreated from the founding of this city and for several hundred years before that in our country. Let’s not talk about haste. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote nearly 60 years ago from the Birmingham jail:

For years now I have heard the word 'Wait!' It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.' We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that 'justice too long delayed is justice denied.'

And now, nearly 60 more years have gone by and still people feel we need to do a multi-year research project. No more! We know what the problems are and we know what the solutions are.

The City of Pasadena needs to create a pathway to strong, independent, civilian oversight of the Pasadena Police Department. Even Chief Perez has said he wants this and I cannot imagine that he doesn’t. Strong civilian oversight will protect everyone and make sure we have real public safety.

We also need to reallocate resources from policing to human services, we need to assign unarmed civil servants to address needs where armed officers only escalate and make things worse, as we saw happen this past weekend. Civilian oversight is only the beginning, but we can’t even seem to start.

Some Pasadenans see a police officer and feel safe, cared for. Another large percentage of our city sees a police officer and fears for their lives. This is not acceptable. Nor is this debatable. It is simply the reality. If you, members of city council, care about this community as you say you do, you will go above and beyond your normal amount of listening to the pain in our community and then act, as you have been elected to act, to ensure the safety and well-being of our city. If you cannot act then we will elect someone who will.

The city is speaking in one voice: Black Lives Matter Pasadena, the NAACP, the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, the Pasadena Tenants Union, churches, the various ministerial associations, Pasadenan’s Organizing for Progress, the Pasadena Bill of Rights group, Complete Streets Coalition Pasadena, Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of the Pasadena Police (CICOPP), and more!

It’s time now to act. We expect to see real progress, not just platitudes and empty promises, at your meeting on August 24.

Sincerely,

Ryan Bell
Pasadena Resident, District 6
Pasadena Tenants Union
Pasadena City Commissioner

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