Community Support for an Independent Police Department

Long History of Resident Support

The KPD has a long history of support by the community since the inception of Kensington Police Protection district in 1946. Residents have come together time and again over the past 70 years to maintain this independence.

Our police department is hired and managed through our own governance, since we, Kensington residents, elect the board of directors of the KPPCSD to represent and be responsive to our concerns and interests.

We have our own police jurisdiction, and are noted in the Government Code as one of five special districts in the state having police protection powers equal to that of a city and the county sheriff.

Because of this, Kensington has enjoyed one of the lowest crime rates in the area, response times of less than 3 mins for priority 1 calls (faster than El Cerrito), and unparalleled personalized service; and officers who have a connection to the community they serve and a dedication to the town.

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A Stable Police Force

We have had a fully staffed and well-functioning police department of 8-10 officers since at least 1978 up until 2016, when the current board majority came to power.

Currently, Over half the force has served for more than 10 years in our community. We have also had officers that stayed with the department for 25 years.

Police Chiefs have often served for many years (historical dates from "Kensington Past & Present, Centennial edition"):

  • A.F Bowley: 1947-1950 (3 years)
  • J.K Kendric: 1950-1953 (3 years)
  • G.A Yool: 1953-1972 (19 years)
  • W.E. Gist: 1972-1977 (5 years)
  • J.I Christian: 1977-1985 (8 years)
  • J.M. Bray: 1985-1998 (13 years)
  • B.D Garfield: 1998-2006 (8 years)
  • B. Taylor (interim): 2006-2007
  • G.E. Harman: 2007-2015 (8 years)
  • K.E. Hart (interim): 2015-2016
  • R. Hull (interim): 2016-2019
  • S. Simpkins (interim, CCC Sheriff): 2019-present

Historically, Kensington Chiefs of Police have served an average of 8 years, with one case of almost 20 years. It has only been under this Board majority that Kensington has been left in a state of flux, with 3 interim Chiefs of Police (and the current General Manager suggesting another one after this).

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Citizen Engagement

More than 5 times Kensington has rallied to keep her police force independent and her community intact. She has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to a vibrant community culture supported by local control and an independent police department:

1956/1966

  • Residents vote to remain independent of El Cerrito control of the community

1980s/1990s

Early 2010s

  • Concerns about the KPPCSD Board unilaterally contracting significant portions of police protection without permission of the town leads to the Voting Rights Ordinance which was brought to the Board as a citizen initiative.
  • Voters approve a modern special tax (Measure G[2010]), one capable of keeping its value with inflation, to supplement police operations.
  • Members of the KPPCSD and KPD also work to find ways to bring in extra revenue to support police activities that enhance the community.

Late 2010s to present

  • Citizens engage with the KPPCSD board around their concerns regarding the leadership and structure of the police district, culminating in the 2016 Ad Hoc Committee on Governance report. This was a citizen effort producing professional quality work.
  • Kensington Residents begin putting up signs across town rejecting the idea of contracting out.
  • Residents show up to fill the Community Center during the many Matrix town halls, a vast majority speaking out against the ideas of contracting out police services.
  • Residents speak up at the KPPCSD meetings demanding the board support a community vote, something the Board of Directors refuses to publicly support.
  • Over 350 households (over 500 voters) weigh in the affirmative for respecting the Voter Right Ordinance.
  • At the El Cerrito City Council Meetings, well-spoken Kensington residents voice their concerns that respecting the will of the people to vote on the issue of contracting out is central to good governance. They question the legality of moving on this issue without a vote and suggest it would then be something to be decided in the courts.
    (Such as: EC City Council Meeting on Oct 1st (see 23 min mark))

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