Riechel Reports - Events - City of San Bruno CA

San Bruno CA City Manager June 2020 Newsletter

Article Source:  City of San Bruno CA

June 2020 Edition
Jovan D. Grogan, City Manager
Welcome! What's in this issue?

"The City of San Bruno stands with its Chief of Police in condemning the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.  Racism and injustice have no place in the City with a Heart.

San Bruno is not perfect.  We recognize this and invite all of our constituents to take the time to self-reflect on racism and inequality throughout your lifetime and how the systems that have been put in place have impacted our communities of color here in San Bruno.  We have members in our community who lived through segregationist America.  They recall when Black and Brown individuals were required to sit in the back of the bus.  We have members in our community who remember when Black and Brown individuals could not swim in the same swimming pool.  We have members in our community who remember when Black and Brown individuals were not allowed to live in parts of our community because of the color of their skin.  We also have members in our community, a new generation of leaders, who are calling on all of us to stop the on-going racism that still exists 56 years after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.  This “Call to Action” by our youth in 2020 America is a reminder to all of us that mindsets and mindshifts are a significantly greater obstacle than enacting legislation.

We call on our senior community to tell your stories and we call on our youth to advise us on how we can be more inclusive.  We call on our Black and Brown men and women to tell us your stories of daily life in 2020 America and possibly more uncomfortable for all of us…2020 San Bruno.  We have been listening.  We hear your list of endless fears…being pulled over by the police…walking in your neighborhood at night…wearing clothes without too many pockets…We…Hear…You…

San Bruno is listening.  We encourage our community to self-reflect and engage in a dialogue amongst different races and ages because our history with Black and Brown America is complex and uncomfortable, but its impacts live on today in the daily lives of our Black and Brown community.  Mr. Floyd's death reminds us that there is significant work left to be done to achieve true equality and justice for all.

On November 19, 2019, the San Bruno City Council signed a resolution committing to raise awareness and spark action and conversations to stop hate and to build inclusion by participating in the “United Against Hate” campaign.  San Bruno “United Against Hate” empowers all of our residents to take action in San Bruno to alter the course of growing intolerance while rejecting negative messages.  We call on our San Bruno family to actively participate in this campaign by turning words into action 365 days a year.

In recent weeks, residents of San Bruno have gathered for nonviolent, peaceful demonstrations, in the name of equality.  Our City departments, including the San Bruno Police Department, welcome the demonstrations.  We encourage all of our residents to join us in engaging and educating ourselves on the national conversation around race and equality happening now. The City of San Bruno stands in solidarity with you.

As elected leaders and policymakers we acknowledge that at the core of America’s values is the promise that all men are created equal and entitled to justice.  These promises are included in the Declaration of Independence and in the Pledge of Allegiance that we cite and re-commit to before every City Council meeting.  The complexity of these promises are the uncompromising realities that are embedded in America’s history of racism and injustice that are amplified because the promises for all have only been delivered to some.  The hope we are given today is that the story of America is still being written and we are the authors of tomorrow.

Here in San Bruno, we are proud of our diversity.  As the City with a Heart we ask our entire City family to allow our hearts to unite us and our conscience to guide us."

-San Bruno City Council
June 9, 2020

On June 8, 2020, the City of San Bruno supported a student led “9 Minute of Silence” event at San Bruno City Park by printing San Bruno Stands United Against Hate posters and buttons, which were provided to participants. The buttons were also worn by Police Officers and other city employees who wished to express their support. On that same day, I emailed the following statement to all City employees and the San Bruno City Council.  Due to the overwhelming expressions of support and warm reception, the statement is republished below:

“Over the past week, I sat down to collect my thoughts and start this message. Each time, I was either overcome with emotion or found myself at a loss of words. How do I balance the myriad issues and articulate the complicity of being black in America, being someone who values the service of law enforcement, and someone who holds the unique position of being one of (or the) youngest African-American city managers in the Country?
For me, George Floyd’s death stirs up a range of emotions from anger to fear. Watching the video reminds me of a lesson that my parents taught to me – it is a similar conversation that every parent of a black male must have and a conversation that I dread having with my five year old son. “You are a black male and some people will fear you. You will see women pull their purse closer when you walk by, people will think you are following them, and when you are stopped by the police do everything you can to make them feel comfortable. Not all cops are bad, but some will approach you in fear of their life. Son, always remember that the side of the road is not the place to debate the Constitution. You can be dead right…literally 100% right and end up dead. Do not resist, just comply and you will live to see another day. There is nothing you can do to change this. It is the lasting history of slavery and racial bias in our country. I love you and want you to come home every day.
For the first time, I find myself questioning the lesson that my parents taught me. It feels like a lie. I know it saves lives, but I also know that there is nothing that I or other African-Americans can do alone to eliminate racial bias and injustice. George Floyd’s death and the multiple videos that captured the entire incident clearly illustrate that. 
Voices for change in the middle of a tragedy are insufficient.  We saw this in the words of bystanders to Mr. Floyd’s death and all of the prior calls for change after a race-based tragedy garners attention. 
The momentum for lasting change that has been ignited by George Floyd’s death is a moment for internal reflection for all Americans and collective action to complete the work that began in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.  That movement resulted in a monumental change for our Country, but it failed to permeate the hearts and minds of all Americans.  It failed to force all Americans to see the value of opting into the discussion about race and equality.  And, it failed to produce overarching systematic change in every community. 
Unfortunately, generations of kids have been raised in households where the topic of race is too uncomfortable for their parents to address.  As a result, they are forced to grapple with the complexities of difference and America’s legacy of slavery, segregation, and discrimination alone or with their equally uninformed peers. 
Let’s face it.  Race is uncomfortable for everyone and that is okay. Simultaneously, we must also face the fact that silence in the face of injustice is complicity.  This is what the growing chorus of woke Americans are yelling.  They are yelling in the midst of a deadly pandemic that enough is enough and we all must be uncomfortable. Myself included.  I, unlike most of my close African-American peers, avoid the conversation of race. It makes me uncomfortable.  I cannot seem to rationalize why I was blatantly skipped over by a server at a restaurant while in college and why a White graduate student that observed the incident was more motivated than I to fight the system.  I was more motivated to complete my Master’s degree than start a fight to point out how I was wronged.  I guess I was following the lessons that my parents taught me – “you can’t change it, just deal with it and live. Work hard and your reward will come.”
Back to my five year old son, while leaving for work today, he said, “Daddy, why did you decide to become a City Manager instead of a Policeman?” [FYI, he loves the police and I have yet to break his youthful ignorance with “the talk”.]  After pausing for a moment, I said being a City Manager means that I can influence change and help in many areas - not just the police, but libraries and parks. He then said, “what does influence mean?” and I knew that I had successfully avoided “the talk” again. Hopefully, by the time I must have the conversation, I will have something better to share than you can’t change it, just work hard and make the police know you are not a threat. 
At 37, I am proud of the professional success that hard work has provided. It provides me the opportunity to shape change and ensure that our local systems are fair and equitable.  It afforded me the opportunity to introduce our community to the United Against Hate campaign, which the San Bruno City Council adopted last year and rolled out to other Peninsula cities.  And, specific to the current conversation, being a City Manager has afforded me the opportunity to participate in confidential personnel discipline proceedings for officers and witness firsthand when blue holds blue accountable.  
In San Bruno, we have an amazing Police Department.  A Department that is led by a Police Chief, Ryan Johansen, who recognizes the importance of this moment.  As a member of law enforcement, he has also lost a partner on the job and understands the inherent risks that San Bruno and cops across the Country face.  
The Officer’s reality and fears for their own life are a part of the conversation and any lasting change must be influenced by and reflect the experience of those that put their life on the line to protect ours. 
Until we are all comfortable talking about race, we cannot achieve America’s dream of a perfect union…locally or nationally. It is time for everyone to talk about race without fear. Let us not go back to our daily lives unchanged, only to express outrage the next time a senseless death occurs…black, brown or white.  Let us make personal commitments to change our collective reality.
In closing, I make the following commitments:
1.  I commit to facing my hesitancy with the topic of race and initiate a personal and professional conversation with the men and women of the San Bruno Police Department;
2.  I commit to lead a comprehensive review of our local use of force policies and disciplinary procedures that will culminate in the release of a public report, so the community will know and understand our internal processes for accountability, fairness and justice;
3.  I commit to make time in my personal life for mentoring youth through my membership in the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area –a chapter of a national organization that’s committed to support black youth achieve their full potential; and,
4.  I commit to continue supporting the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, whose vision is to inspire leadership development and service excellence with integrity and accountability, while transforming the way we govern."

-Jovan D. Grogan, City Manager
In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the growing call for changes in law enforcement, the San Bruno Police Department (SBPD) has initiated a review of Department policies and data with respect to use of force and arrest demographics.  SBPD is also working with outside law enforcement agencies to identify and implement best practices to avoid racially biased policing.  This effort will be combined with the independent review process that the City Manager has committed to lead.  Both efforts will culminate in the release of a public report, so the community will know and understand San Bruno’s internal processes for accountability, fairness, and justice. We expect this work be completed in Fall 2020 and include public meetings to both present and discuss the findings with the public and the City Council.
In addition, San Bruno Police Chief Ryan Johansen will establish a “Listening Campaign” with the community by hosting informal conversations regarding police reforms and community relations with the Police Department.
Lastly, the following videos were issued by Chief Johansen, to discuss current SBPD policies as well as steps the Police Department is taking in response to the killing of George Floyd including our interpretation of #8CANTWAIT.
Chief Johansen also shares a heartfelt message about the continued service the Police Department has provided to support our community.  Chief Johansen says, “The men and women of the San Bruno Police Department are truly wonderful human beings and exceptional people who are deeply committed to your well-being and to protecting you in a manner that you want to be protected.  We will continue to earn the trust you provided to us contact by contact.”
San Bruno Police Department Policies and #8CANTWAIT
I Love You - #CopsWhoLove
For more information and City updates, visit sanbruno.ca.gov/social to follow us on social media!
This e-Newsletter is intended to provide updates on key issues and projects going on in San Bruno and will be issued electronically on a monthly basis. The City Manager’s Office is committed to making sure the public stays informed about what’s going on in your City government. You can learn more about City efforts and services, at any time, by visiting the City’s website, sanbruno.ca.gov or by simply staying tuned to this newsletter!

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