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A message from Police Chief John Carli

On what should have been a national holiday remembering the sacrifices of our soldiers on Memorial Day, we found ourselves watching horrible images of George Floyd’s death while in police custody. This tragic event has gripped the nation and our community. What we saw disturbed me greatly because it’s everything I’m against.  It’s in our nature to search for answers, find ways to cope and express our outrage for situations we are forced to contend with.  We have seen this process unfold in cities all over the nation.  People want to be heard and demonstrate peacefully, which they did on several occasions in front of City Hall. For the vast majority, the groups were peaceful and respectful.  Although prepared to respond, we did not have officers out with the demonstrators as we believed it would become the focus, and potentially antagonize the crowd. Being the subject of the demonstration is very complicated as it is our responsibility to make sure this right is protected. Although, there were a few outliers with more destructive agendas, they were dealt with swiftly and without violence by those in the group that were committed to their peaceful expression. 

It became clear that individuals and groups with destructive and violent intentions besieged Vacaville Monday, June 1. We deployed all our resources, and everyone valiantly stepped up during this crisis. With our heavy police presence around our local outlets, shopping centers, and downtown businesses, our entire police force heeded the call to protect lives and prevent destruction. This night in particular may go down in our history as the busiest night ever. These efforts continued throughout that week as we experienced unprecedented attempts to destroy our community from outsiders who do not live in Vacaville.  We know how fearful yet thankful our community has been as we stopped the violent behavior that spilled into Vacaville. We experienced very dangerous encounters and our own officers were injured. A curfew was enacted for two nights, and the National Guard was utilized on five nights. This is behind us now, but there is nothing normal about what we have experienced or how we are all feeling.

There is no excuse for racism in our society, which is now the centerpiece in public debate. These are challenging times that will test the will of our nation; however, we are confident that our longstanding commitment to modern policing puts us in a better place here at home. Our community and the relationship we share is, and always has been, of the upmost importance to us here in Vacaville. We take seriously our oath to protect and preserving people’s rights and are committed to ensuring the safety of all those we serve. There will be many demands for change, and serious questions about our own police department.

Vacaville is rightfully a unique community that is recognized for many best practice programs nationally. In May 2020, the Vacaville Police Department received the National Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation ‘Destination Zero’ General Officer Safety Award. This recognition is an example of the exceptional high standards in policy, equipping, and training that makes our community and police officers safe. While much attention is being given to what is wrong with policing, Vacaville is routinely described as a community that reflects what is right with America.

The City of Vacaville continues to invest in prevention and intervention programs that are intended to reduce the impact on policing and lessen the negative effects of enforcing the law on our community. Funding the police department is paramount to providing the safety and security for all residents and businesses. As a fundamental function of the city, public safety is an identified priority in the City Council’s Strategic Plan. Each year the police department submits a program based budget which outlines each program and performance measures as part of the budget review process.  Vacaville continues to deliver exceptional police services that appropriately balances the need for uniformed police officers, investigative teams, and clinical services. Vacaville is recognized as a national model for its longstanding success in building trust and legitimacy within our community. This year alone the City will spend $6.1M on Family Services, Youth Services, Clinical Services, Community Response Services (homeless), and Crime Prevention.

The following responses are based on inquires that have been assembled, which provide a better understanding of the policies and practices of the Vacaville Police Department:  

Expand/Contract Questions and Answers

  • How are Police Officers held accountable for force used during police encounters?

  • How does Vacaville meet the recent justice reform movement titled “8CantWait” and the eight suggested principles in policing?

  • Do Vacaville police officers wear body cameras?

  • Are the police officers in the Vacaville Police Department being trained to de-escalate altercations by using peaceful conflict resolution strategies?

  • Are the police officers in the Vacaville Police Department forbidden from using carotid restraints (chokeholds, strangleholds, etc.) and hog-tying methods? Furthermore, are they forbidden from transporting civilians in uncomfortable positions, such as face down in a vehicle?

  • Are the police officers in the Vacaville Police Department required to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force? Will officers be reprimanded if they fail to intervene?

  • Are the police officers in the Vacaville Police Department forbidden from shooting at moving vehicles?

  • Is there a clear and enforced use-of-force continuum that details what weapons and force are acceptable in a wide variety of civilian-police interactions?

  • Are the officers in the Vacaville Police Department required to exhaust every other possible option before using deadly force?

  • Are the officers in the Vacaville Police Department required to give a verbal warning to civilians before drawing their weapon or using excessive force?

  • Are the officers in the Vacaville Police Department required to report each time they threaten to or use force on civilians?

  • Are the officers in the Vacaville Police Department thoroughly vetted to ensure that they do not have a history with abuse, racism, xenophobia, homophobia / transphobia, or discrimination?

  • Are the officers in the Vacaville Police Department trained to perform and seek necessary medical action after using force?

  • Is there an early intervention system enforced to correct officers who use excessive force? Additionally, how many complaints does an officer have to receive before they are reprimanded? Before they are terminated? More than three complaints are unacceptable.

  • Does the Vacaville Police Department collect and report data on civilian deaths that occurred in custody and as a result of an officer’s use of force. If so, is the data broken down by demographics and should showcase the race, and gender?

  • I ask that you institute mandatory training and accountability for all officers in our city to prevent similar injustices.

  • Why are we giving police forces military grade weapons?

  • Why are we training our police to aggressively handle situations?