By Jose Hernandez and Paola Villarino—Mid-City CAN Youth Council
The mayor’s proposal to hire the new chief of police through a secret panel is flawed and unacceptable. Mid-City CAN is part of the Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency, urging the mayor to form a transparent search committee that includes members nominated by the community.
We commend the city for the addition of community forums in City Heights and San Ysidro, but moving forward with a secret panel will only weaken community trust in the next chief of police.
Peace, safety, and fairness from a transparent, open, and accountable democracy. This is what we, as youth, need to thrive. And that is why we are so committed to making sure our next police chief is hired through a community-led process. The inclusion of funding for a national search in the San Diego city budget was a great first step, but how that search is conducted is even more important. As youth, we are working to make City Heights—one of our city's most policed neighborhoods—more safe, healthy, and productive. We call on our leaders to step out from behind closed doors and work hand-in-hand with the community to select our next police chief.
My name is Jose Hernandez and I am a City Heights resident and a student at SDSU. My experiences with police have largely been positive. I have interacted with honest and ethical officers who were just doing their job. In fact, I feel safe knowing there are officers around. However, I also know some police officers abuse their power and for many in my community, including family members, most conversations about the police involve brutality and distrust. Without change, our community cannot experience peace, feel safe, or believe in justice. To truly foster trust, the city must be transparent and allow the community to lead the efforts of selecting the next SDPD chief.
My name is Paola Villarino. I became an American Citizen in April of this year and am committed to helping improve who we are as people, as a community, and as a nation. Coming together as a community to hire our next police chief will lead to improved relationships between police and those most impacted by the decision. By leading the process, we will be more trustful of the department and be even more invested in the new chief’s success. With trust, San Diego will become safer, as people will be more likely to come forward as victims or witnesses of crimes. We as the citizens and the youth of San Diego should not be afraid of going to police for help. We should walk hand in hand, to improve who we all are. Growing up, many of us struggled to understand the actions of those around us—family, police, friends—now we still question their decisions and make our own based on the lessons we learned and the values we hold dear. Our hiring process should incorporate those lessons and values, and create healthy guidelines through group meetings and discussions based on patience and the future we wish to share with generations to come.
Together, we represent the growing group of young San Diegans committed to making our city the peaceful, safe, and fair community we and our families need to reach our potential and prosper. In order to create this future, we call on our local leaders to provide us with a transparent, open, and accountable democracy that listens and responds to the community's needs.
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