HAYWARD — The city will be gathering input from residents over the next several months on policing and on possible ways it might be changed amid the widespread debate about law enforcement and how it affects people of color.
The aim is to have focus groups begin in August, carry out a survey in September and present the results to the City Council later that month.
On Tuesday, when the council was briefed on the plan, some people told the council that the city needed to move faster.
“I think you should stop dilly-dallying,” said Elisha Crader, a candidate for council this November, adding that the city should immediately defund the police.
Crader also said enough people have contacted the council over the past few months for it to have a gauge of public opinion.
But Police Chief Toney Chaplin said frequently the council “heard the same folks speaking over and over again” at meetings and forums.
“This truly has to be a community discussion,” Chaplin said.
Approximately two dozen members of the public weighed in during the meeting, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some questioned why the city planned to bring an outside consultant — FM3 Consulting at a cost of $74,000 — to gather public feedback.
“We are definitely hearing the amount of pain and distrust in our community and the need for doing this important work,” Arlene Nehring, senior minister at Eden United Church of Christ, told the meeting.
City Manager Kelly McAdoo said the aim was to conduct a “deeper dive” into policing.
While the focus group and survey are taking place, city officials plan to build a web portal that can share information on police policies and programs, as well as its organizational structure and budget.
The portal will be promoted via the city’s social media and email distribution lists.
“The public opinion research is intended to provide statistically reliable information about opinions and attitudes about policing and public safety throughout the city, and to help us better understand how experiences and views compare and may differ by neighborhood and across a range of demographic variables,” Hayward spokesman Chuck Finnie said via email.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.