20200110-bc-graduates (copy)

In this file photo, Law Enforcement Code of Ethics are recited by Class 19-10 during a graduation ceremony in January.

Calls to reform the Bakersfield Police Department are seemingly coming in from around the world.

Public comments from as far away as the Netherlands and Germany were sent to the Bakersfield City Council as part of online campaigns calling for changes to BPD policies, including demands to defund the police.

Over the last week, city email accounts have been swarmed with such calls to action. On Wednesday, the City Clerk’s Office reported the city had received 1,995 email messages that were logged as public comments for that day’s City Council meeting.

The sheer volume of messages appears to have overwhelmed city staffers, potentially skewing analyses of the comments. A review of the comments reveals that several email advertisements for webinars were included in the city’s list of emails, and some messages were sent from the same account multiple times. Many of the emails vary only by sender, with the same message sent by multiple people.

The emails portray a strong desire to scale back the BPD, which commenters portrayed as violent and unnecessary.

“In the face of cyclical police violence happening throughout North America right now, there is no better time to commit ourselves to change,” read a message sent by a woman who identified herself as Pearl Baneulos. “What we need in Bakersfield is leadership that can initiate reform that aims towards the eventual abolition of police and prisons — and, in turn, the immense police violence that targets our most marginalized people.”

She and others called for the city to “never again” increase the BPD budget and expand community-led health and safety initiatives.

The comments come just as the city is attempting to pass the budget for the next fiscal year. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the $628 million fiscal 2020-21 budget on June 24.

But instead of decreasing BPD’s budget, the city is scheduled to expand it by nearly 10 percent. The Public Safety and Vital Services Measure has allowed city officials to expand the BPD. The city is planning to devote $119.9 million to the department, and add 44 positions over the next fiscal year, including 15 civilian employees that will support officers and detectives.

The BPD has said the new officers will allow the department to respond to calls for service faster.

“The most important thing we feel we can do is to address our response times,” Assistant Police Chief Joe Mullins said during a budget workshop in late May.

According to BPD statistics, officers only arrive at priority-one calls in under five minutes 30 percent of the time. In some cases, those calls are not responded to in under 10 minutes, an eternity for someone experiencing an active crime.

“A priority-one call is a call where a person’s life where there is bodily harm imminent,” Mullins said, noting domestic violence with a weapon and someone kicking the door of a residence down before beginning to shoot were classified as priority one. “Ten minutes can be an extremely long time when a crime is in progress. And we are striving to get there in that 10 minutes 80 percent of the time.”

The BPD didn't respond to a request for comment about the requests to defund the police.

While largely ignoring the public comments at Wednesday’s meeting, the City Council took steps to address some of the concerns. Councilman Andrae Gonzales made a series of recommendations that included the city review the #8CantWait policy proposals and form a community task force that would analyze requests coming from the public.

Both he and other council members want the public to realize the council has been working to address issues in the Police Department.

“The community needs to understand that we have realized some years ago, and have been moving forward on changing the culture in the Police Department,” Councilman Bob Smith said during the meeting. “I personally went to what they call Principled Policing (training) and heard a lot of discussion on implicit bias, and recognizing that we all have implicit bias and working through that. I think it’s important that we reach out to the community and let them know where we’re at and continue to change.”

When asked if the city would change its budget proposal before the council voted to approve, spokesman Joe Conroy didn't directly answer.

“The City takes a wide variety of input and feedback into account throughout the budgeting process to present a balanced budget for Council’s approval,” he wrote in an email to The Californian. “Staff will prepare a budget that reflects the Council’s guidance, goals and inquiries.”

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.

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(14) comments

Masked 2020

Chlorinator....what do you know .....I was a want abe off to Canada draft dodger but served proudly n tricky Dicks Army......95 bravo.....must be PTSD.....now say your sorry to this technically Viet Nam war vet who got stationed instead in the Kush nightclub city of Berlin.....and I was blessed...I don't make the rules I just follow them......and it has worked out very well for this homegrown wantabe costal elite ....but then I'm white......and it was served pretty much on a silver platter...god I hated walking around in the forest with that Mi16 in the middle of the night......just wild boar in the Grunewald....no Russian spies...no Viet Cong...lots of liquor and hash and partying.....so my point is......since they never dishonorably discharged me some day Kevin is going to give me a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's and you need to let me be because I did your service......and could of stupidly died for it the luck of the draw had been different......so give the folks that haven't had it as easy as me a fair shake and stop hatting on them

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Thank you for proving my point.

A village somewhere is truly missing its idiot...

Zeppo

I think the village is in Minsk......

Django

BPD is seriously overpaid.

https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/2019/bakersfield/

My thoughts

Will the sheriff's department be getting more money? They are under staffed and under funded.

Zeppo

alexkelley: Thank you for stating the truth!

Masked 2020

the gift that just keeps on giving.............As protests across Chicago devolved into chaos last week and residents started to loot nearby stores, police officers were making popcorn and drinking coffee while “lounging” inside Congressman Bobby Rush’s office, officials said in a stunning news conference on Thursday.

Speaking alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Rush said at least 13 Chicago Police officers were loitering inside his South Side campaign office in the early hours of June 1 and were “relaxing” while nearby stores were being looted and burned, and their fellow officers were clashing with demonstrators.

ReefRanger

Maybe those officers were ordered to stand down, like so many in terrorized cities have been. If the cops do ANYTHING to stop the looting etc., if they arrest the criminal thugs who are "Just protesting iniquity", they would just be called racist pigs and the rioting would get worse.

I suspect in many instances now, there will be no need to defund the police. Many cops are going to look for another line of work where they are more appreciated and not made targets of.

Boris25

Come on man, BLM "Black Looters Matter"

Masked 2020

why are they all skinheads....is that part of their indoctrination?

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Yorkies, you are a social psychologists' w3t dream...

You also know nothing about service- in any form, so just refrain from posting anything more on the subject- your status as the resident ignoramus has grown exponentially in the last few days...

ReefRanger

Indoctrination?? I think you have the police academy confused with institutions of "higher learning". Police officer candidates going through the academy are required to maintain certain grooming standards, just like in the military. "high and tight hair cuts are mandatory, except for female candidates.

Airdog44

Who cares what these other countries think! We don’t defund police here!!!

BanditIvy

Good. Buy more ammo for the cops. After all, every thug deserves a slug.

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