Let us resolve to address the challenges of our department by keeping our police independent, and holding the BOARD accountable to the people.
Up until this last board took office in Jan 2017, our police district delivered excellent service on a tight budget with strong backing from the community.
However, following their election many members of the current board set in motion a series of events and fomented rumors, creating instability and untenable working conditions for our officers and staff, while exaggerating the “troubles” of the department.
Examples of this Include
- No Permanent Chief of Police since 2015 (we have had 3 Interim Police Chiefs since 2015, after a very stable department before then)
- Officers operating without a contract for over 7 months (and continuing), due to the Board’s repeated delays.
- Maintaining an unstable environment that leads to sub-par staffing levels and recruiting challenges, for the first time in at least a decade.
- Forced resignation of a long standing and well regarded staff member and community advocate in 2019
- An outside internal affairs report that cleared the police of false accusations of harassment was taken down from the District website by the current Board. (The IA can now be found here: IA, Exhibits)
Our ‘troubled’ police department may in fact be troubled because of how the board is managing them, or rather had been letting them be mismanaged, versus the department itself. There has been a marked rise in complaints and media controversy since this board was elected, however in actuality, crime rates are still low and the police officers continue to serve the community diligently, despite these uncertain times for them.
Why Would This Happen?
Given the various recent mismanagement and poor decision-making of the current Board, some may conclude that there has been a deliberate attempt to cripple the department and its officers and staff.
Why would they do this? One theory is that there is a minority group of residents in Kensington that may have interests in seeing the Kensington Police Contracted out to El Cerrito or the whole town annexed to El Cerrito, and have therefore launched a campaign against our police department as a mechanism to that end.
Ultimately, there are stark differences in ideology around centralization of government services, versus local control.
Kensington has been a special community driven district, one of the few unincorporated towns that still has local governance over its police services.
Our police department may not be perfect, but the system of accountability has worked well to address the issues, provided we have a qualified Chief of Police, and a functioning Board without ulterior motives.