The city council's Public Safety and Education Committee is now questioning East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis. Davis is nervous. He's not as articulate as Braziel; his answers going into the Q &A with city council members are somewhat vague. As he talks about his goal for Seattle, as police chief, would be "to see reduction of crime and reduction of perception of crime," without going into specifics.
However, Davis gains confidence when he talks about his department in East Palo Alto and how he's affected change in the city. With regards to violent crime in immigrant communities, he says, "We reach out to [illegal immigrants]. We make it clear we're not going to report them, that we're not working with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], and that they can talk to us." And it's worked. He says that building trust and opening lines of communication in communities that traditionally fear police officers or eschew police officers is a big goal of his. Again, he's seen results in East Palo Alto.
How Davis engages and redirects troubled youth: "We have to recognize and value the contribution youth bring to the table," Davis says, with programs like the Grafitti Art Project, which gives youth a constructive, controlled outlet for creating graffiti. The outcome, he says, is that "they respect property. They respect art. They realize their talents can be used to beautify the community."
How he addresses open drug markets, such as Seattle's perceived problem in Pioneer Square: Davis believes in the concept of "working with service providers to provide alternatives," what he calls operation cease fire. This involves identifying drug dealers, confronting them, and giving them social service alternatives to being arrested (this tactic was deployed in Seattle under Interim Chief Diaz last fall). Davis talks of offering job training, GED classes, and cognitive life skills to low level drug dealers, while "on the other side of the table is law enforcement… saying that if you don’t take these services and stop the behavior you’ll be held accountable."
How Davis would handle aggressive solicitation downtown: "Enforcement should be our last tool," he says. First the community should analyze what services are available to help people on the streets, and what the end goal is. "Once we identify the goal, we'd find ways to achieve that goal so that all parties involved are satisfied."
And that's it for Davis. Overall, once he found his comfort zone, Davis was a great speaker. He communicated his ideas effectively and had the departmental experience to back up his goals and ideas for Seattle.