City Council Report on Census and More

Citrus Heights, CA  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd

City Council Supports SB 230, Opposes AB 392 in Police Use of Force Legislation

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - At the Citrus Heights City Council meeting on April 11, staff updated the Council about the importance of public outreach to ensure an accurate count in the upcoming 2020 census.
The results of the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and determine the distribution of federal funds for healthcare, education, housing programs, and transportation.
California didn’t gain any additional representation in the 2010 census, and there is some concern that the state could actually lose representation if the upcoming census isn’t accurate. Approximately $2,000 in funding is lost for each person who isn’t counted on the census. The City has organized a Complete Count Committee to ensure that every Citrus Heights resident is accurately counted.
The census used to be conducted door to door, but the Census Bureau has moved to an online response system to save money. Residents will receive a card in the mail with instructions to reply online. This presents a challenge because older generations aren’t as comfortable responding online.
The housing crisis will also pose a challenge; some families don’t have a stable living environment, so they might not receive the instructions in the mail. There is also the issue of the contested citizenship question, which could make people hesitant to participate in the census.
Public outreach is going to be crucial in ensuring that Citrus Heights gets an accurate count in the census. To show the City’s dedication to an accurate count, the Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the 2020 census and the affiliated outreach events.
The Council then heard a report about a recent development in the Electric Greenway Trail Project, which is currently in the preliminary design, public engagement, and environmental review phase. Because most of the project funding comes from the Active Transportation Program (ATP), which consolidates existing federal and state transportation programs, the project must meet both National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements. Caltrans is the lead agency for that effort, and they have requested some additional studies to satisfy the NEPA requirements.
These additional studies were not anticipated in the original scope of work: Noise and Air Quality Study, Natural Environmental Study, and Analysis for Park Impacts. To continue with the work and conduct the required studies, staff requested $17,606.98 of additional funding.
The staff report stated there are sufficient Measure A Capital (Pedestrian Safety) funds available to supplement the project funding and cover the additional professional services. The Council voted unanimously to approve the additional funding.
Ronald Lawrence, Citrus Heights Chief of Police, spoke to the Council about two upcoming pieces of legislation that seek to address police use of force — Senate Bill 230 (SB 230) and Assembly Bill 392 (AB 392).
Chief Lawrence said that AB 392 seeks to change the long-held legal standard of “reasonable” use of force to “necessary” use of force. “This introduces a dangerous hindsight judgment,” said Chief Lawrence.
“AB 392 does not change any existing policies, guidelines, or training requirements. It simply hopes that using new language … will result in sweeping behavioral changes. … But officers do not think about rhetoric when they believe they are faced with a life-or-death decision; they rely on their training. … There is no training component in AB 392. … AB 392 simply makes it easier to prosecute police officers without providing the training they need to change,” said Chief Lawrence. He urged the Council to adopt a resolution opposing AB 392.
Chief Lawrence spoke in support of SB 230, which he said is a comprehensive measure implementing consistent and evidence-based policies to minimize use of force through rigorous training programs. The main objective of SB 230 is preserving the sanctity of life and reducing use of force incidents.
“It is the only legislation that will provide law enforcement officers with the tools and resources they need to reduce use of force effectively. It establishes the first statewide guidelines that clearly define when officers are authorized to use force,” said Chief Lawrence. SB 230 will set a precedent and position California to lead the nation in use of force policing standards, policies, practices, training, and reporting. Chief Lawrence asked the Council to adopt a resolution supporting SB 230.
Vice Mayor Jeff Slowey said, “To me, 392 is a very disingenuous bill. … Changing a word does not change behavior.”
Councilmember Steve Miller also addressed SB 392’s change in verbiage: “Rewriting use of force is really just a political response to a tragic event, trying to solve problems by incorrectly diagnosing them and coming up with the wrong remedies.”
Councilmember Porsche Middleton said it’s important to ensure that both officers and the community are protected. She emphasized that this should not be a partisan issue.
Mayor Jeannie Bruins called for a vote and the Council unanimously voted to oppose AB 392 and support SB 230.