[Editor’s Note: Shortly after this article was originally published, Pasadena Now received word that today’s Public Safety Committee Special Meeting is to be cancelled. “The meeting will be canceled. I received information over the weekend that we would be unable to make a quorum,” Interim City Manager Steve Mermell said in an email.]
A Cal State Los Angeles professor whose report about community perceptions of the Pasadena Police Department was disparaged by one Councilmember and then used as evidence that city does not need a police oversight board by another will not face Pasadena’s Public Safety Committee today after the meeting was cancelled.
Dr. Lisa Graziano from California State University Los Angeles’ School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics completed “Community Perceptions of Policing in Pasadena” in April, 2016.
Her survey was included in the April 18 City Council review of a separate report prepared by two consultants who concluded that Pasadena should implement formal oversight of the Police Department.
Testimony from the two consultants recommending Pasadena police oversight indicated the pair had relied upon Graziano’s report as a basis for forming their conclusion.
At that time, Councilmember Steve Madison questioned the validity of Graziano’s survey. Graziano was not present.
“It was basically skewed in ways that don’t reflect the demographic of Pasadena, at all. Not geographically, racially, by income — not in any way,” Madison said. “You’re not going to get the opinions of the community if you try to skew who you’re talking to.”
“It’s not a valid survey in my view,” Madison said.
Both Public Safety Chair John Kennedy and Interim City Manager Steve Mermell said that an effort would be made to hear from Graziano directly. Ultimately, that resulted in today’s special meeting, which will be cancelled due to the lack of a quorum.
Graziani’s study reported that “a strong majority (78%) of residents demonstrated belief in the PPD, expressing confidence in the department’s ability to do its job well, make decisions in their best interests, and protect people’s rights.” This confidence rating is higher than the national figure, which was cited at 60%.
In addition, almost half of Pasadena residents surveyed felt that the PPD was more likely to treat whites and the wealthy better than minorities and the poor. Again, this figure was less than the 60% who hold this position nationally.
The report also stated that a majority of residents rated the police in Pasadena as being effective in all areas of service and interaction with the community, but particularly for treating residents with courtesy, preventing crime, responding to emergency calls, and dealing with neighborhood problems.
A third of all residents felt police misconduct was “at least a minor problem in Pasadena,” said the report. The report also stated that “Latinos residents had more negative assessments than Asian and White residents, while African American residents exhibited far more negative assessments than Latinos.”
The report also added that White residents were more likely to consider the Pasadena Police Department as being very responsive to their concerns. with African Americans having the most negative assessments.
Councilmember Victor Gordo viewed the Graziano report as a positive statement on the Pasadena Police Department, saying, “I would like to point out that the survey results on page 13 show that there is tremendous confidence in the police department and that we actually out perform the benchmark in the nation.”
For a copy of Graziano’s report, click here.
The Public Safety Committee will meet at 4 p.m. in City Council Chambers at Pasadena City Hall.