Once again, in order to continue maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Progressive Dems of Benicia met on Zoom.
Discussion on police reform issues with Benicia Police Chief Erik Upson
In the wake of demonstrations and protests over racial injustice and police brutality, including the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other black and brown members of our society, in June Police Chief Erik Upson announced steps “the Benicia Police Department is taking for a better future.”
Chief Upson has stated: “I’m very proud of the culture we have built in this department and the humanistic approach we take that focuses on the community. I know there is more we can do, and I look forward to making changes that will strengthen our relationship with those we serve.”
Chief Upson joined us to discuss what has been done and what the department is doing to ensure any aspects of racism in the Department are addressed and measures are in place to eliminate and prevent it in the future. For example, in response to Governor Newsom’s order, Benicia police are removing use of the carotid choke control from its policy. Chief Upson has also created a “Use of Force Policy Review” web page which clarifies current Benicia police policy. And, the Benicia Police Policy Manual is now posted for public review (checking in at 756 pages!).
While these actions are important, questions remain, and Chief Upson addressed many of our questions in his discussion.
Benicia Tree Foundation
Also on the program was Alison Fleck, President of the Benicia Tree Foundation. Ms. Fleck discussed Caltrans’ recent removal of trees along the Hwy 780 corridor, and the Foundation’s plans to pursue actions to force Caltrans to replace the removed trees with new ones. Recently, City Council passed a Resolution supporting the Foundation’s intent to have new trees planted along Hwy 780. Ms. Fleck to suggested ways in which PDB can support the Foundation’s efforts toward Caltrans.