Forward Together

Image of Forward Together Work Group Session


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.

Listening Sessions

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.

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 spent 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 was intended to provide an opportunity for broader community involvement in any recommendations to improve police-community relations in the City of Modesto.

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.

Guest Panelists

DrL photo

Dr. LaTesha Watson

Director, Office of Public Safety Accountability(City of Sacramento) 

Read Dr. LaTesha Watson Bio


Frank Hauptmann

CPRC Independent Consultant, Riverside Community Police Review Commission(City of Riverside)

Read Frank Hauptmann Bio


Rick Armendariz

Deputy Chief Anaheim Police(City of Anaheim)

Read Rick Armendariz Bio

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.


NameOrganization Name 
Thomas HelmeAmerican Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California
Will KellyAmerican Federation of Labor - Stanislaus Central Labor Council 
Austin GrantBlack Student Union
Leah AshfordCity Ministry Network
Jonathan GrammaticoCentral Valley Pride Center (CVPC) MoPride
Solange AltmanCommunity Member
Terhesa GamboaCommunity Member
Marian MartinoCommunity Member
Nico SolorioCommunity Member
Josh BridegroomDowntown Modesto Partnership
Alvaro RamirezEl Concilio
Adriana GarciaHispanic Chamber of Commerce
Aaron AnguianoLatino Community Roundtable
Trish ChristensenModesto Chamber of Commerce
Tim ZearleyModesto City Schools 
Darius CrosbyModesto Clergy Council
Brad HawnModesto Neighborhoods, Inc.
Aaron TaitModesto PD Internal Affairs
Dan StarrModesto Police Officers Association (MPOA)
Wendy ByrdNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Linda MayoNational Alliance on Mental Illness
Ruben ImperialStanislaus County Behavioral Health
Birgit FladagerStanislaus County District Attorney
Matthew MasonStanislaus County Interfaith Council (SCIC)
Jennifer JennisonStanislaus County Public Defender
Jeff DirkseStanislaus County Sheriff's Department
Perfecto MunozWest Modesto Community Collaborative
photos of national night out and community