At its September 15, 2020 council meeting, the Napa City Council took action against discrimination and racism in the community by adopting a resolution formally recognizing the effects on public health.
In a unanimous vote, the City council adopted the resolution “affirming that discrimination and systemic racism is a public health crisis that results in disparities in family stability, health and mental wellness, education, employment, economic development, public safety, criminal justice experience and housing.”
“I am proud to serve on a council that recognizes the weight of this issue and is willing to stand with all members and say, ‘We see this, we recognize it for what it is, and it is not OK,’” says Mayor Jill Techel. “Discrimination and racism have no place in this world, and I believe that taking a stand in our small corner of the globe will send a message and lead to action so that we can start to remedy wrongs.”
According to the Boston University School of Public Health, a public health crisis has been defined as a problem that affects large numbers of people, threatens health over the long-term, and requires the adoption of large-scale solutions.
A 2019 study by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Study, found that Napa’s population is 55 percent white, 39 percent Latino, 3 percent Asian, and less than 1 percent black. To provide equity and inclusiveness for all who live and visit our community, the City recognizes the need to address discrimination and systemic racism.
Ahead of adopting this resolution the City had already started taking actions to address concerns regarding use of force observed within police departments across the country. In June, Napa Police Chief Robert Plummer presented a report to the City council that detailed use of force statistics and Department policies to the City Council. He then returned in August with recommendations on how the department would be taking action to monitor those areas including:
- Implementation of a quarterly Defensive Tactics training program (including covering non-deadly force training, “shoot don’t shoot technology” and officer wellness/physical fitness training to improve mental health of officers)
- Improved record keeping for use of force tracking and transparency
- Continued and expanded community engagement programs
- Cultural and ethnicity awareness training
- Establishing a Community Police Advisory Committee to review Police Department policies and procedures
Additionally, City Manager Steve Potter has also directed the Acting Human Resources Director to establish and implement a multi-year, mandatory training for all employees that will cover the topics of Implicit Bias, Cultural Awareness & Celebrating Diversity, Racial Justice & Equality, Age & Ability, LGBTQ+, Gender Identity & Equality.
“This list is not all-inclusive and additional topics may be added,” said Potter. “We want to ensure that we are educating our City workforce in all areas necessary so that we can make our government as accessible, equitable and inclusive for all members of the Napa community as possible.”
Moving forward, Potter will also be leading an effort to seek and obtain input from employees and community members, to identify areas of systemic racism that may exist within the City government. The focus of his effort will be on the City’s employment, training and development and housing programs. The feedback received will guide the structure of follow-up actions, and Potter plans on returning to the City Council at least semi-annually to update them on progress.
The City of Napa is committed to addressing discrimination and systemic racism and the public health crisis that has resulted because of them. For further questions, please reach out to Deputy City Manager Liz Habkirk at LHabkirk@cityofnapa.org.