October 14, 2020 Hello Mayor Haskew and City Council Members, Mr. Buckshi, Ms. Burkhart, and Acting Chief Hill,
We are writing to express our concern regarding two items: first, the lack of response to our email of October 5 about the City’s response to the settlement with the Hall family https://www.justiceformileshall.org/post/fosath-response-letter-to-walnut-creek-city-government and second, the October 12 posting to the Walnut Creek Police Department Facebook page.
We are sure that by now all of you have read the Facebook posting and responses. In fact, some of you responded yourselves. Not only does the posting promote divisiveness, but the message itself and reactions to it prompt numerous questions, including:
What is the culture within the Police Department that makes a member of that department comfortable posting a message and replies to it that disparage people who question or criticize law enforcement (1), given that the department’s stated values include treating “everyone with impartiality, courtesy and dignity while maintaining our loyalty to the community, our department and our profession”(2)?
Why as a matter of principle is it acceptable for City employees or elected officials to post their personal reactions to content on a City department’s social media channel? Responses by city employees to members of the public include:
“Sorry if community support offends you. You can unfollow our page anytime.”
“We’re good, but thanks.” (in reply to a question about serving the whole community rather than deliberately creating division through the original post)
What lack of training, understanding and/or sense of accountability leads to a posting that is out of compliance with the City’s social media policy (3) and police policy manual (4) which include the following passages:
“This policy applies to City of Walnut Creek elected and appointed officials, employees, volunteers, contractors and any other representatives acting on behalf of the City or any of its Departments and Divisions.” (3)
“Any employee authorized to post items on any of the City’s social media sites shall not express his or her own personal views or concerns through such postings. Postings on any of the City’s social media sites by an authorized City employee shall only reflect the views and concerns of the City.” (3)
“The City will utilize social media to engage, build relationships with, and provide useful information to the City’s residents, partners, and stakeholders.” (3)
“Causes for Discipline: Discourteous, disrespectful or discriminatory treatment of any member of the public or any member of this department or the City.” (4)
We are aware that the WCPD has posted an update taking responsibility for the misstep. While we appreciate this public acknowledgement, we are concerned about the continuing pattern of public communication from both the City and its Police Department. The pattern seems indicative of an organization with cultural issues not only around how it views its citizens who live with mental health conditions, but also how it views the public’s right to ask for change.
As you know, Friends of Scott, Alexis and Taun Hall (FOSATH) is committed to collaborating with the City to promote the healing required in the aftermath of the June 2, 2019 killing of Miles Hall. We are frustrated by City communications that continue to inflame and divide.
We request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss next steps. We are looking forward to your response.
FOSATH - Friends of Scott, Alexis, and Taun Hall
WCPD Facebook screenshots:
2. City of Walnut Creek Police Department Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/walnutcreekpd
3. City of Walnut Creek, Social Media Policy #202, issued 1/3/2012: https://www.walnut-creek.org/home/showdocument?id=2412
4. City of Walnut Creek, Police Policy Manual, Standard of Conduct Policy 324.5.9