I have two young kids and I will never do anything to make us less safe. But must explore the option of contracting for police services with less overhead than we have right now.
The Board’s greatest near-term challenge is rebuilding the wider community’s trust in its ability to provide services that reflect the community’s values and are fiscally sustainable. To address these challenges, I pledge to:
Since at least 2008, as long as I’ve lived in Kensington, the Boards have collectively failed to address our government’s inherent structural weakness created by having the Chief of Police serve as our General Manager. The Boards have been too passive and uncritical in controlling expenses for police services. This imbalance and deference to the Chief of Police favors police services at the expense of other community needs and long-term fiscal prudence. To compound matters, Directors have failed to de-escalate conflicts among themselves and with the community. Some residents haven’t felt respected or heard, others have been vilified, and the silent majority of residents have been utterly repelled by the discord.
The Board’s greatest near-term challenge is rebuilding the wider community’s trust in its ability to provide services that reflect the community’s values and are fiscally sustainable. This trust is crucial so that Kensington can have a community-wide values-based conversation to find common ground in transitioning to a better governing and operating structure. In the long-term, the Board must take a leadership role in ensuring that our budget is managed for a fiscally sustainable future. Our district has to consider underfunded pension and medical trust fund liabilities and the impacts of required seismic upgrades to the public safety building and community youth center.
In talking with fellow residents, their top concern is the combined Chief of Police/General Manager position. They agree with the Ad Hoc Committee’s draft report findings that separation of the roles is “the preferred organizational structure.” At the most basic level, they understand that having one person serve in both roles creates a conflict of interest, especially in matters related to police complaints and budgetary priorities. It is a glaring structural weakness, no matter who is in the role. The Ad Hoc committee has identified several alternatives for separating the positions. The Board and community will have to consider the best one to serve our needs and budget. One can always find obstacles to change, but the community has demonstrated its will and the Board must find the way!
The incoming Board must maintain the momentum of the Ad Hoc Committee’s work and facilitate our community’s ability to fully explore contracting some or all elements of police services. An analysis of the police services data and a thorough understanding of our town’s budget constraints is necessary to put together a Request For Proposals. Only then can the community have a robust conversation that both clarifies the numbers, but more importantly explores the values that we as a community hold dear. The new board will then be empowered to decide how contracting could meet our community policing needs in a fiscally sustainable way.