The Modesto Mayor and City Council recognize that trust is the foundation of a strong relationship between law enforcement and the community. Both national and local events, some with tragic outcomes, speak to the need for connecting with our community on how we would like to be policed. The Council believes that together we can build a strong resilient public safety environment.
With the goal of stronger relationships and greater trust, Mayor Zwahlen has launched the Forward Together initiative – a community engagement process to hear from the public, develop a shared understanding, and explore solutions to improve the safety of our community.
An initial Listening Session was held on May 22, 2021 which gave the public an opportunity to share feedback about policing in Modesto with City Council and staff. The goal of the Listening Session was to gather input from the community and was the first step in identifying opportunities to work together to enhance the safety of our community. Watch the May 22, 2021 listening session on the City of Modesto's Official YouTube Channel.
Staff anticipates that Forward Together will hold one or more additional listening sessions, following the development of core concepts for possible consideration by the City Council. Keep an eye on the calendar for possible dates.
Work Group Meetings
The Forward Together work group hosted its first meeting on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. All meetings of the full Work Group will be open to the public, with the details of in-person and virtual yet to be determined. Members of the Forward Together will spend 6 to 12 months developing a deeper understanding of current police practices and policies in order to develop specific recommendations for City Council consideration.
The community-based process is intended to provide an opportunity for broader community involvement in any recommendations to improve police-community relations in the City of Modesto. Watch the July 20, 2021 work group meeting on the City of Modesto's Official YouTube Channel, as well as subsequent meetings - generally being held on a monthly basis.
3 Areas of Focus
Following the May 22, 2021 Listening Session, the Council identified three areas of focus for Forward Together:
- Policies & Procedures - that support safety, fairness and equity throughout the department and the community.
- Alternate Response Models - that ensure the right type of response and resources are applied to a situation.
- Accountability - for police conduct, decisions and how they impact the Modesto community.
Forward Together has undertaken their work by forming three ad-hoc committees – one for each of the Council identified focus areas. Education and shared learning will provide the foundation for developing recommendations in each of the areas.
Policies & Procedures
Two sessions were held on policies & procedures: Part I on September 20, 2021 and Part II on October 18, 2021. These two sessions covered areas that support safety, fairness and equality throughout the department and the community. Watch live stream work group meetings via the City of Modesto's Official YouTube Channel
View current Modesto Police Department policies & procedures
Alternate Response Models
On November 15, 2021 a work group meeting was held on the topic of Alternate Response Models that ensure the right type of response and resources are applied to a situation. This meeting included an educational presentation and discussion regarding Alternative Response Models by Modesto Police Department personnel, and staff from Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Watch live stream work group meetings via the City of Modesto's Official YouTube Channel
Community Health and Assistance Team (CHAT)
Beginning in the summer of 2020, the Modesto Police Department began exploring the idea of creating city Homeless Outreach Specialists to respond to qualifying calls through the 911 communications center for mental health crises and similar non-criminal, non-violent incidents. The first Outreach Specialists were hired in April 2021 and the early success of these interactions have been promising, helping to build relationships and work with individuals to accept shelter and services, resulting in the newly formed CHAT team. Learn more about the CHAT program.
Park Rangers Pilot Program
On January 25, 2022 the Modesto City Council approved an eighteen month Park Ranger Pilot Program that will fund four full-time Cadet II positions to be assigned as Park Rangers. The goal of which is to achieve a sustained presence in our city parks, trails and open spaces reducing illegal activity and ensuring these areas are safe for our community.
Two sessions were held on accountability: Part I on December 20, 2021 and Part II on January 20, 2022. The first session covered police conduct, decisions and how they impact the Modesto community. The second session featured a special panel discussion of experts from four jurisdictions that have implemented some form of review or oversight.
Forward Together Next Steps
On September 29, 2022 a council workshop was held regarding Community Oversight Boards and Independent Police Auditors, encouraging the Council and community to provide input on these concepts. The workshop was a result of key recommendations made by the Forward Together Workgroup, as outlined in their Recommendations Report. Information received at the workshop will be instrumental in guiding the development and implementation of the City’s own accountability processes, which was proposed at the December 13, 2022 Council meeting.
|Thomas Helme||American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California|
|Will Kelly||American Federation of Labor - Stanislaus Central Labor Council|
|Austin Grant||Black Student Union|
|Leah Ashford||City Ministry Network|
|Jonathan Grammatico||Central Valley Pride Center (CVPC) MoPride|
|Solange Altman||Community Member|
|Terhesa Gamboa||Community Member|
|Marian Martino||Community Member|
|Nico Solorio||Community Member|
|Josh Bridegroom||Downtown Modesto Partnership|
|Alvaro Ramirez||El Concilio|
|Adriana Garcia||Hispanic Chamber of Commerce|
|Aaron Anguiano||Latino Community Roundtable|
|Trish Christensen||Modesto Chamber of Commerce|
|Tim Zearley||Modesto City Schools|
|Darius Crosby||Modesto Clergy Council|
|Brad Hawn||Modesto Neighborhoods, Inc.|
|Aaron Tait||Modesto PD Internal Affairs|
|Dan Starr||Modesto Police Officers Association (MPOA)|
|Wendy Byrd||National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)|
|Linda Mayo||National Alliance on Mental Illness|
|Ruben Imperial||Stanislaus County Behavioral Health|
|Birgit Fladager||Stanislaus County District Attorney|
|Matthew Mason||Stanislaus County Interfaith Council (SCIC)|
|Jennifer Jennison||Stanislaus County Public Defender|
|Jeff Dirkse||Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department|
|Perfecto Munoz||West Modesto Community Collaborative|