Pleasant Hill police

Strong public backing for Pleasant Hill’s new police advisory panel

Pleasant Hill Police Chief Bryan Hill
Pleasant Hill Police Chief, Bryan Hill.

PLEASANT HILL, CA (Oct. 14, 2021) — With his new Chief’s Advisory Panel, Police Chief Bryan Hill is leaning into the public debate about policing in a bid toward greater transparency.

He sees the 15-member panel as an extension of several community outreach programs and activities related to racial equity and social justice that will examine, research and provide feedback in the development of strategies to foster the department’s partnership with the community. The group will likely begin monthly meetings in the new year.

“This panel will give community members a voice, be a conduit for two-way communication and bolster our goal of practicing transparency engagement,” said Capt. Scott Vermillion.

“It will be a vital program where the chief can hear directly from members of the community to learn what expectations they have for their police department,” Vermillion added.

Current issues on the table for discussion include challenges impacting the community and its police, such as the department’s response to individuals suffering mental health emergencies, homelessness, use of force, transparency, criminal activity and trends, use of new technologies and ordinances pertaining to public safety.

“As an agency, we recognize that establishing (a community) bond involves proactive engagement, providing community access to public safety information and, when appropriate, involving the community in decisions that affect them, in addition to being transparent to help build and maintain public trust,” Hill wrote in his new Pioneer column.

The panel will act solely in an advisory capacity to the department, and it will not engage in disciplinary or personnel actions, ongoing criminal or internal investigations, legal issues or active incidents.

Diverse membership

To ensure the greatest effectiveness, the plan is to include diverse members from the Pleasant Hill community that represent ethnic, socio-economic and experiential backgrounds as well as different ages. Those tagged for the panel will be selected from Pleasant Hill residents, business owners or their employees and individuals intimately involved in organizations that serve the Pleasant Hill community.

Pleasant Hill City Councilmember Ken Carlson, who formerly served on the Concord Police Department, said there has been “exceptionally positive” response from the public to this panel.

Drawing on his experience in law enforcement, he noted that residents can feel intimidated when it comes to interactions with those wearing the badge. However, he lauds what Hill is attempting to do through the panel.
“It opens the doors wider with the community,” Carlson said.

Although City Council approval wasn’t needed in developing the panel, Carlson said Hill came forward to present his ideas to “keep everyone in the loop” and keep a finger on the pulse of the public.
“This is his baby,” Carlson added.

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