Local Government
Disruption causes Fairfield council meeting to recess

Disruption causes Fairfield council meeting to recess

City of Fairfield logoCommunity members attended the Fairfield City Council Meeting tonight to comment about an officer that works for the department and was previously employed by a neighboring agency. Trust, transparency, and accountability with regard to how we protect and serve our community is our utmost priority. Please see the attached link/document in regard to concerns brought forward.

Instead of participating in public comment, the participants chose to disrupt the council meeting to the point it had to be recessed.

One of the fundamental roles of law enforcement is the protection of the rights all people have to peacefully assemble, demonstrate, protest, or rally.  In turn, law enforcement also has the need to ensure public safety and to protect the rights of all people, lives, and property.  Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our society and is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, there are situations in which limits on a person’s First Amendment rights are appropriate, especially where the speech in question unlawfully disturbs or breaks up an assembly or meeting, such as a lawful council meeting.

On November 17, 2020, nine people were arrested at the city council meeting in the City of Fairfield.  Those arrested willfully and without authority disrupted the City Council meeting to the point that the meeting could not continue.  The council members called a recess and were removed from the council chamber.  The individuals causing the disruption failed to leave the meeting after being requested to do so and were ultimately arrested. Those arrested were charged with California Penal Code Section 403.  The elements of disturbing a meeting include the following:

  1. That the person intentionally committed acts that violated a public meeting,
  2. The person knew or reasonably should have known that his/her acts violated the meeting, and
  3. The persons acts substantially and unlawfully interfered with the conduct of the meeting

The best way to prevent this in the future is for participants in council meetings to be aware of their rights and responsibilities during a council meeting and to respectfully follow established laws pertaining to public meetings.

November 17 Council Meeting Informative Update

In the days leading up to the City Council meeting on Nov. 17, 2020, the group, Fairfield Change posted a message (link to statement https://bit.ly/2UETZLV ) stating, “We will not allow the meeting to proceed if our questions and concerns are not answered. Sign up for public comment to speak, if you don’t know what to say follow the script.”

Because trust, transparency, and accountability are some of our highest priorities, Chief Cantrell addressed members of the community during the City Council meeting in hopes of answering questions regarding an officer that works for the department but was previously employed by a neighboring agency. Chief Cantrell addressed many questions about our hiring process, background investigation, and the oversight that the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) has over these processes.

Following the Chief’s presentation, the group became increasingly disruptive. The disruption was so severe, the council members called a recess and were removed from the council chamber.  The disruption lasted for more than 10 minutes and after being asked many times respectfully to leave, they chose not to. Nine people were arrested for willfully and without authority disrupting the City Council meeting.  Those arrested were charged with California Penal Code Section 403.

The following videos are from Fairfield Police Department Officer body-worn cameras, capturing the Nov. 17 Council disruption in its entirety. The two videos are of the same incident at the same time but provide different views.

Nov. 17, 2020 City Council Meeting Body Worn Camera Video: https://vimeo.com/fairfieldpolice/councilmeetingvideo1

Nov. 17, 2020 City Council Meeting Body Worn Camera Video: https://vimeo.com/fairfieldpolice/councilmeetingvideo2

*If the links do not work, copy and paste them into a search engine.

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