The death of George Floyd at the hands of four officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparked a protest movement advocating a thorough examination of police department policies and practices throughout the United States.
Now is an appropriate time to take stock of the performance of the Modesto Police Department to determine whether changes need to be made. There has been talk about establishing a Citizens’ Review Board, but thus far, no formal proposals.
The Present Mechanism For Reviewing Complaints
When a citizen complains about a Modesto Police Officer’s action in the line of duty, the complaint is handled by Chief Galen Carroll. He may assign internal investigators or investigate himself. At his discretion, the chief may take disciplinary action against the officer or uphold the action taken by the officer.
The chief’s ultimate goal is to satisfy the citizen while being fair to the officer. Setting the operating policies of the department, the chief makes sure the public is properly served in accordance with the law.
If a citizen is unsatisfied with the chief’s determination, the citizen may further complain to the Public Safety Committee of the Modesto City Council, or make a complaint through his city council representative or the mayor’s office. These alternatives are not employed very often because most citizens aren’t aware of them.
Another option for an aggrieved citizen is to gain satisfaction through civil suit. Each year, a small number of lawsuits are filed against the actions of a police officer who acted in the name of the city.
Adding A Citizen Review Committee
The purpose of a Citizen Review Committee is to examine and adjudicate grievances against a police officer or a department’s operating policies. Depending on the law establishing the committee, such a political body could bypass the chief and city council and adjudicate grievances independently. On the other hand, the committee may be given lesser powers.
Citizen Review Committees usually consist of citizens appointed by city council members. No direct election by the public takes place. What is certain is such a committee adds a layer of bureaucracy that may or may not competently fulfill its mission.
The committee cannot prevent lawsuits. It cannot settle lawsuits. Unless prescribed by law, it cannot hold police officers to account beyond a chief’s willingness to adhere to or agree with the findings of a committee.
If the City of Modesto seeks to establish a Citizens’ Police Review Committee, it will want to examine committees already in existence nationwide, see how they work, evaluate which work most effectively, and then adopt the mechanism that would work best in Modesto. A big question will be whether Modesto has enough misconduct to warrant creation of a review board.
When I served on the Modesto City Council, no one complained to me about police services —not once. In four years, we had less than a handful of lawsuits alleging police malfeasance. The worst incident was the accidental shooting of a young boy, Alberto Gonzalez, during a drug raid, an incident that required an external government investigation.
Establishment of a Police Review Board will take a lot of work to set up. Citizens who are serious about the idea should do the research and then present a proposal to bring forward to the Modesto City Council. Protest without meaningful action is a wasted effort.
Defund the Police?
The concept of defunding the police is different from advocating the abolition of a police department. Defund could simply mean, “reduce the department budget.” Or, it could mean, “reallocate some police department funds to provide other services.”
An argument can legitimately be made that police officers are frequently asked to respond to problems that should be outside the scope of their duties. For example, do police officers need to supervise the activities of the homeless population? Could social workers do a better job?
Advocates for defunding the police should make clear exactly what changes they would like to see in a police department’s budget. Bring the proposal to elected representatives. Protest without a meaningful, well thought-out proposal is a wasted effort, subject to misinterpretation and disdain by political opponents and results in no change for the better.
Hi, yes! I’m notifying you b/c my Son has never been in jail or broken any laws. But. he was out of work and had not found a job for quite a while since moving out here in Modesto. So, he had not payed for his car registration! So, he was Stopped!! And they put him in HANDCUFFS!!! Just for a car registration!!! He was devastated and he kept saying to me? My wrist hurt from the cuffs! SO, I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHY WOULD HE BE PUT IN CUFFS FOR LICENSE REGISTRATION?? WHY!!!
George Kirby says
He was put in cuffs because he was a criminal. Driving without registration is a crime. I can’t believe you want to call for police reform over something like that.
Exactly right. I’m so sick and tired of people breaking the law while expecting no consequences. The mentality of some people now days is mind boggling.
Regina V Clark says
Ok sir, as a woman, fully licensed, and having a commercial license so yes I drive something bigger than that four-wheeler that you drive and the fact that I personally fear being pulled over by anyone that has the word Modesto on their badge there’s a problem. My license is my livelihood, and so yes there was a mother that her son was it licensed. what about all of those that are breaking and entering and me law abiding citizen, that are having vehicles broken into and the Modesto Police department don’t even respond. The fact that those of us that are law-abiding citizens are having to have our windshield replaced because of those that don’t have a driver’s license those that aren’t trying to get a job. Again as a commercial truck driver mr. Kirby and I know that you are not one of those you need to just sit down. Because obviously you’re getting the all of these stimulus and unemployment and everything else. I would really like to flip the script on people like you and then let’s see how much compassion you have!!!
Rick M. says
Correct. §4000 (a) of the California Vehicle Code, actually.
Bruce Frohman says
The way you frame the arrest, anyone would want to know why your son was cuffed.
A logical explanation exists. What is the reason you have not obtained one?
If you were stone walled and could not get an answer, then a Review Board could be justified. If you did not inquire using existing remedies available, then nothing further will come out of your dissatisfaction.
Citizens are the ultimate source for promoting change. Few will deny that our country can do better.
David Chamberlain says
Maybe you should ask your son why he was put in cuffs. I’m guessing the officer told him.
Laura patricia Bowens says
Yes because law enforcement in Modesto has become a joke. Caucasian boys/men racing down Briggsmore, plus other illegal activity going on in 95355 yet the MPD are sitting in empty parking lots on that side of town not doing anything but talking to one another. Let a minority do something out of bounds and here they come two or three deep ready to put a minority in hand cuffs.
That’s because the city of Modesto says they can’t afford enough officers to patrol those areas you spoke of. I live in those areas and agree with you. To answer this article our city needs way more officers and funding, you morons. We have lost more officers in the line of duty by violence or quiting due poor conditions/pay. Now the lack of money could be due to paying full wages at retirement for life. But no one talks about that.
Just delete my post. Not sure why I bother.
No current registration means you dont drive on roads. Incident wouldn’t have even happened had your son not drove like a law abiding citizen. Where has common sense gone? Break laws big or small expect consequences big or small.
Dorothy Pettinohn says
Of course we need a. Citizens council for police. The past chief said no. MPD hasnt been too agressive lately. Ten years ago they were killing too many. Every hostage situation there were deaths. They even burned a four-plex to the ground ,with people inside! I would apply tto be a member!
Dorothy it’s so easy to sit back and judge what and why the police officers do what they do isn’t it? I mean, you were there on scene and would’ve handled things so much better right?
David Chamberlain says
The only person in the 4 plex was the man who shot through a closed door killing a lock smith and Sheriff Deputy. He was given more than 10 hours to exit the building and chose not to. The fire wasn’t intentionally ignited and he chose to die of a self inflicted injury. The Modesto Police Department did not cause the death of the double murderer.
James Costello says
Sandra, there is a Modesto clergy group that reviews complaints and works the the Modesto PD. Rev. Darius Crosby is it leader. You can find him on Facebook.
James Costello says
Bruce, there is, indeed, an effort to create a Citizens Review Board based upon the successful model of the City of Davis. Our group published an Op-Ed in last Sunday’s Modesto Bee. Check it out. Contact me and I will send you the appropriate documents.
Yes, definitely. It is past time for oversight in police departments here and across the nation. Anyone with the power to inflict pain or death at a moment’s notice on the people they serve, should be held to the utmost impeccability. I am grateful to our first responder protectors and know that a few can reflect negatively on the entire department. Let’s make sure there aren’t any ill suited members on the force. Let’s hold those accountable for any wrong they do while serving the public they are sworn to protect and let’s hold those deserving of praise up!
CHRIS MURPHY says
Hand cuffs for a registration? This is a ticket at the most. I have had lapsed registration before and got a fix it ticket for it. I too support law enforcement and am not one to be a Monday morning QB, but the response has to fit the infraction.
Well maybe we’re not getting the full story. Maybe other things were present in the vehicle or maybe he wasn’t giving the officer his ID and a fake name or DOB. We have to know the whole story before we can criticize.
Hand cuffs for a registration? Does not make you a CRIMINAL! I hope you filed a COMPLAINT against those OFFICERS.
Uh……. when you commit a crime……. you’re a criminal.
Yes! I agree with Laura… Modesto MPD have A Lot of Racist cops had a recent incident officer didn’t deny pulling me over do to the color of my skin… Really??? Aren’t they supposed to protect and serve the community not Divide the community. Modesto citizens need to stand up for the community and demand justice for all the abuse of authority MPD continues to use against the citizens in our community they vowed to serve and protect.
Al Lucchesi says
What is the review Board going to consist?, How will it be appointed?, What the term of Board member be? What will their powers be?
It’s the right thing to do, here’s what Fresno is doing:
Mark Trammell says
No the flavor of the day is defunding the police. Next time someone is breaking into your house they want you to call a social worker because most of the police will be taking care of the city elites.
Do what's right says
Just think,if everyone followed the Law,would we need LE? Most likely not,but the truth is that more and more people think there’re above the Law and doing what they want and feel that whan they break the Law they shouldn’t have consequences VS being a good citizen.Maybe just maybe we should be teaching our kids to respect LE and the Law instead of acting entitled.
When I was young (around 10-11) an old man in my neighborhood touched me and lightly assaulted me. We called the Modesto Police, and they showed up 6.5 hours later after 3 different calls saying they would be there in a 1/2 hour. They asked for my info, then the mans info, They go to his house, and come back 5-10 minutes later saying that there’s nothing they can do. I ask them what? What do you mean? They tell me he has dementia and doesn’t remember doing anything so there’s nothing else they can do and they are going to leave now. They left. The old man died a couple of years later, but the encounter with the police really rubbed me the wrong way. First of all, I was a CHILD. I was a young girl taken advantage of by an adult, touched and molested when I was walking, and there’s nothing you can do??? Maybe …. PUT HIM ON A WATCHLIST? PERHAPS… CHARGE HIM OR AT LEAST INVESTIGATE HIM FOR PEDOPHILIA? AM I CRAZY FOR THINKING THAT? Anyways, I’ve never heard of good experiences with the Modesto police ever, and I’m not inclined to believe they’ve changed at all since then.
Id love to be on that committee!
Rick M. says
I do not believe a Citizen Review Board would be useful for Modesto Police Department. The agency is not operating on a large enough scale that it would be practical. The Chief of Police does this as part of his job. Let him his job.
As far as funding goes, it should be increased to improve the quality and quantity of training MPD Officers receive. Their bar is already high. They will only get better at what they do if they’re well trained and well equipped. If you want to see excellence in any profession, you get what you pay for. This applies to the money invested in law enforcement as well. Defunding is a bad idea.
I think a grammar review board would be a better use of time and money based on what I’ve seen in the comments.
If you’re unable to write a coherent and complete sentence your opinion tends to embody the equivalent amount of value and weight.
After reading this string of thoughts, grievances and the occasional rant, the only comment I agree with is Chris’s just above.
It’s really hard to make heads or tails out of some of these opinions/suggestions given the way many are presented, so not wanting to assume everyone failed grammar classes, I’m chalking some of this up as Ill typed knee jerk reactions, others to having an axe to grind and the rest as “writing while under the influence.” (Been there; done that, so am aware how embarrassing it can be on reading same the next morning.)