Santee Mayor John Minto summed up Monday’s Community Oriented Policing Committee meeting when he said “The bottom line is that when we do these meetings we’re not always going to hit the target”.
For example, Committee Member Linda Roach said although the initial diversity equity and inclusion subcommittee meeting held April 19 “was supposed to include next steps like delivery of an assessment, town halls, a commitment to regular updates in whatever intervals would be appropriate,” she did not hear any indication of what the group’s next steps will be.
She also reminded the committee of their Jan. 11 recommendation to have the city partner with an outside diversity training agency for professional guidance within three months and asked when the city expected that to happen.
Steve Stelman called in with a three-part comment requesting details about a $25,000 city allotment generally slated for diversity efforts within the municipal government, ways to increase proactivity with the diversity roadmap including more robust interaction with community members, and how future subcommittee meetings could be directed so city council members “improve their collective knowledge before speaking from their positions of influence”.
In answer to Stelman’s first question, Human Resources Director Erica Hardy said she is in the process of looking for a vendor for a community survey.
“In addition to that, I spoke with Bree in marketing on how we could do better with sharing information and contacts with the community to be more proactive about being inclusive and getting the word out on future meetings,” Hardy said.
Minto said he believes an upcoming Santee television station will also help spread the word of future meetings.
Responding to Stalman’s final point on city council members, Minto said there is a challenge when individuals aren’t always able to talk about items that aren’t subject to action under the Brown Act, as well as a challenge with city council members who don’t understand what the committee is trying to do.
“It’s difficult to influence the other council members on how they are supposed to address things. I think that what we’re doing though is part of the process of educating not just the public but our elected representatives. As we go along they’ll begin to understand better what we’re talking about,” Minto said, including councilman Dustin Trotter who was publicly asked to comment on his relationship with local vigilante group Defend East County at the April 11 meeting.
“If Dustin has an opinion on what diversity means, maybe that’s something he needs to learn about,” Minto said.
Committee Member David Shorey said city council members set the tone for how the subcommittee will proceed.
“There is a lot of distrust, and rightly so. I don’t want to chastise anyone but know that being a little more vulnerable in these situations and showing less ego is going to be helpful,” Shorey said.
Mark Foreman, a committee member and retired San Diego police lieutenant who has a background in first responder trauma said he can look back at his career and see how efforts he instituted 20 years ago are just now taking root.
“This discussion raises questions of whether there is a city champion of diversity, equity and inclusion processes. Those can take ten years to unfold and usually involves someone inside who wants it to be part of their ancillary work, a champion who can start pulling in others. That inner working is a challenge for any organization,” Foreman said.
He said he recognizes Minto was one of the first to put the wheels in motion, and acknowledged there might be expensive costs involved with systemic change but also said “it is worth it in the long haul”.
Committee member and Santee Community Collaborative representative Jean Duffy said the organization is partnering with the National Conflict Resolution Center on May 21 and May 22 to hold community building circles.
“We’re planning one online and one in the park to build on what, as a grass-roots organization we can do. We really want people to have an opportunity to learn and share together,” Duffy said.
The next committee meeting is scheduled for June 14.
Source: East County Californian