~ Santa Rosa is about 55 miles north of San Francisco, CA. It is the largest city in Sonoma County, California. ~
A process must be immediately put in place where the Santa Rosa City Council members and a citizen's committee with veto power have control of the recruitment, interviewing, and selection of the new Santa Rosa Police chief.
In the course of our current protests of Santa Rosa Police mishandling of sexual assaults, and in the course of Santa Rosa Police current investigation of the Sheriff's shooting and killing 13-yr-old Andy Lopez, we found out that right now a new Santa Rosa police chief is being selected in a process so secret not even our elected city council persons are part of the process. The current Chief Schwedhelm is scheduled to retire on Dec. 20th, 2013, only 8 weeks away.
This secret selection process for a new Santa Rosa Police chief is an outrage and an affront to the most basic principles of democracy.
This selection process - by the city manager behind closed doors - must be halted immediately until an process is put in place. A process must be put in place where the city council members and a citizen's committee with veto power have control of the recruitment, interviewing, and selection process of the new Santa Rosa Police Chief.
This is urgent not only because democracy demands it, but also because the last decade of Santa Rosa Policing has been an unending torrent of police misconduct, costly lawsuits, severe discriminatory practices both within the department and in the community - all of it stemming from the top brass!
RECENT HISTORY: Just skimming the surface:
* October 23, 2013: Just one day after a Sonoma County Sheriff deputy shot and killed 13-yr-old Santa Rosa boy Andy Lopez, Santa Rosa Police called a press conference to give results of their 'investigation'. It was a biased whitewash of the Sheriff's Dept. by the Santa Rosa Police. Unforgiveably, SRPD gave only the Sheriff deputies' version of events. They did not even mention at least one eye witness to the shooting who gave a very different version of events.
* October 1, 2013: Women's Justice Center protests SRPD's systematic burial of rape cases. In 2011, over 75% of sex crimes reported to the department are never sent to the district attorney's office for review. This has been the pattern of denial of equal protection to women, especially women in minority communities, for over 20 years.
* ONGOING: The city of Santa Rosa has already spent over $1 million and is continuing to spend in at least five sex discrimination lawsuits against SRPD and against the former police CHIEF FLINT. Chief Flint resigned in disgrace as a result of the extreme sexism he promoted in the department.
* In Dec. 2012, the current SRPD chief, Tom Schwedhelm presides over a WHITE MALE CLONING CEREMONY in which he promotes seven more men to higher ranking positions in the Santa Rosa Police Department. SEE PHOTO of that ceremony:
* September, 2012, a federal jury found Santa Rosa police liable for the killing of an unarmed Richard DeSantis and ordered the city to pay $500,000 to the family.
* As of March, 2012, only 8% of SRPD officers are female, far lower than the national averate of 13%.
* SRPD has zero Hispanic female officers, though over 25% of the Santa Rosa population is Latino.
* SRPD has only 1 female officer of the rank of sergeant or above. There are 28 males who hold the rank of sergeant or above.
* August 2011, (then mayor, now councilperson) Santa Rosa Mayor Ernesto Olivares supports the decision by Santa Rosa Police to allow young children to handle fully automatic weapons during a recent community outreach event in the South Park neighborhood. Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm was also very vocal throughout the media defending his department's idea of "community outreach", despite widespread community protest.
PHOTOS: The following Photos Show that event in August 2011 where Santa Rosa Police Department let kids handle automatic weapons. Photos show children as young as five years old holding assault weapons at Martin Luther King park in mostly minority neighborhood of Santa Rosa, CA.
* in 2003, then Chief Dunbaugh retired in disgrace from the department while both the department and himself individually were named in a sex discrimination lawsuit by female officers.
* 2003, Women’s Justice Center, along with the community demanded a citizen’s committee search, vet, and vote on a new police chief. Santa Rosa City Council went against the vote of the citizen’s committee. The citizens committee did not want Flint. The City Council hired Chief Flint anyway, another narrow minded white male who also resigned under disgrace of at least five sex discrimination lawsuits. see above
etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum.....