Public Safety Committee Meets for First Time After Man’s Death in Police Custody

Published : Monday, October 17, 2016 | 5:02 AM

Councilmember John J. Kennedy, at left above, is the Chair of the Pasadena Public Safety Committee, which is set to hear reports from Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez.

Pasadena’s Public Safety Committee, which oversees the Pasadena Police Department, is scheduled to meet Monday to tackle an agenda of carried-over items from previous meetings. Today’s agenda virtually matches last month’s.

This is the Committee’s first meeting since a Pasadena resident died in Pasadena Police custody on September 30.

The items that are scheduled for Monday will be heard after a public comments session which could be lengthy because of concerns in the community raised by the death of Reginald JR Thomas. Thomas died after he was tasered twice and struggled with Pasadena officers who were answering a 911 call.

The Committee is expected to hear a full presentation by Police Chief Phillip Sanchez and City Manager Steve Mermell which provides information on how cities can determine what constitutes an appropriately-sized police force.

In an Agenda Report prepared for the City Council to be considered by the Committee for passage, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez said budget discussions earlier this year prompted the creation a research document to be given to the Council to assist in making a policy-level decision about a proper staffing level of the Police Department.

The Council discussed increasing the number of the Department’s officers on July 27 when the City Council deliberated on the 2017 operating budget, which provided for 239 officers.


Sanchez also said in the report that the current 239 sworn officer positions at the department is lower than that of fiscal year 2011 which was 251. In 2012, the number of officers was 246, 248 in 2013, and has been at 239 since 2014.

Should City Council authorize a new police staffing study, Sanchez said it would mean costs of between $50,000 and $75,000 which are not appropriated in the operating budget.

At the Public Safety Committee meeting, Sanchez is expected to present extensive data to support the recommended staffing level, including university research and comparative data from other police departments in cities approximating the size and population characteristics of Pasadena.

Also at the meeting, Sanchez is expected to present a 2016 Mid-Year Discipline Overview, which provides data on the number of complaints, internal or external, against Pasadena police officers and explains how these were acted upon.

From January to June 2016, the department conducted administrative probes on 22 cases against police department personnel.

Sanchez will also give an 2016 mid-year overview on Use of Force incidents from a document which was produced prior to the Thomas incident.

Use of Force involves the application of physical techniques or tactics, chemical agents or weapons on another person, especially when the subject of a legitimate search or arrest resists police officers.

The Public Safety Committee will meet Monday afternoon in the City Council chamber at City Hall at 4:15 p.m.