Re: Oxnard Police Chief Jeri William’s Oct. 27 guest column, “Different times call for different measures”:
Chief Williams presumes the public does not realize the difference between a public relations strategy, such as the one currently under way by Oxnard Police Department, and real structural change needed to hold police accountable for excessive violence.
As Williams draws from a field of study dedicated to police public relations, internal protections and a lack of rigorous independent oversight remain in place to prevent accountability within the department.
When the OPD killed Robert Ramirez, it betrayed the community’s trust. That Chief Williams is not reading a lack of community response to OPD’s “numerous efforts to reach out to its organizers” as both a reflection of that broken trust, and a desire to remain independent seems rather disingenuous.
The community relations work pursued by Williams is not designed for structural change, but for managing public perception. Chief Williams does so by discarding the historical context offered by the Oct. 20 editorial piece by Frank P. Barajas, presenting OPD as committed to the community, and marginalizing organizers from the broader community, suggesting that recent protests are unlawful and a threat to public safety.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to sincerely portray police violence as isolated incidents, given the existing pattern, statewide and nationally, wherein one unarmed youth of color after another is either abused or killed by the police (the police killing of 13 year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa last week attests to that).
We need less community relations and more accountability.
– Victor Espinosa,