This is part of a series of Q&As for Mayoral and City Council candidates for the November 2020 election. Questions were submitted by Milpitas residents.
What are some of your ideas for enhancing Public Safety in Milpitas?
Voltaire Montemayor: Public Safety is a whole city contribution; many incidents, many instances to relate; to touch base one or two is reflected on. Residents’ discipline and the right trained officers approach at the site and to the people. Respect for both sides, for each other, is a great key…Bad or wrong reactions are to be avoided…Over counter reaction is very bad too. Ultimately, love and care with each other is to be expressed and extended all the time. No humiliation, no discrimination attitude should be shown.
Rich Tran: We must continue to hire additional officers, install CCTV cameras to combat burglars/robbers/thieves that come from out of town, and bolster our neighborhood watch efforts by our residents.
City Council Candidates
Evelyn Chua: We must ensure police officers are comprehensively selected, trained, promoted, and equipped to safeguard properties and safety of the residents. We need to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the community leaders and residents, and also consistently reduce crime and increase fairness in policing and prosecution practices. Just like our police officers, we have to ensure that fire officers are comprehensively selected, trained, promoted, and equipped to safeguard properties and safety of the residents. We need to expand the Emergency Preparedness Training to include the youth just like the Milpitas Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy; once a year a session is dedicated to the youth. And we need to provide adequate staffing for Public Works personnel to adequately perform their functions of maintaining our parks, water reservoir, pipes and infrastructure.
Julian Jose Nool Hilario Jr.: The safety of the Milpitians is important to me. I want to make sure we have adequate funding in emergency services, to take care of our residents. We, as a city, need to reimagine our police and fire departments. We need social workers to work within the police department on lower crime statistics with better outreach to vulnerable communities and address equity issues. I would like to see our police officers and firefighters have more visibility within our community through outreach.
Robert Marini: The city should establish a emergency phone service , for cellar and land line phones to broadcast emergency information to the public.
Demetress Morris: Milpitas needs to apply for certain grants and monies that allow us to further train and educate our officers. Milpitas officers are asked to be social workers, moms, dads, and teachers, which was not part of the job description. Therefore, I would work to ensure there are an assortment of mental-health opportunities throughout the city by using remote-psychiatry, developing resources in schools, and supporting our local mental health facility in the age of COVID-19. Furthermore, the city needs to encourage crisis intervention to support and build local crisis response units to support law enforcement. The key is to also connect with Employee Assistance Programs to expand options for Milpitas and Santa Clara County. My main objective would be to offer support with ongoing programs that connect non-violent offenders with mental illness to treatment programs with wraparound services, rather than have them enter the criminal justice system. I am seeking to create a positive result.
Bob Nuñez: Public Safety includes the Police Department and 911-Dispatchers, Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Services and the Fire Prevention. The Police Department and the 911-Dispatchers have had police officers, staff, and equipment added over the past 4 years to keep up with the growth of Milpitas. The past and current Police Chief have done a tremendous job of educating and informing the City Council and the community about the needs of our City. The Fire Department was in need of 4 fire trucks because of growth and the condition of the fleet. We were also in need of additional fire fighters. I took the lead and ensured that through the budgeting process both the equipment and staff were funded. The whole Council was supportive. The Office of Emergency Services has been placed within the Department of Fire Suppression. OES is staffed by 1 full time person. There are others that have emergency services as part of their responsibilities. In these times of wildfires, floods and earthquakes we need to staff our OES at a level that shows we accept that climate change has caused our environment to be significantly different and we need to be prepared to address it. This does not have to cost additional dollars but will be addressed by a reallocation of staff.
Anthony Phan: I’m heartened by our Milpitas Police Department’s response of solidarity and compassion for efforts led by passionate activists seeking to reform our criminal justice system, stop police brutality, and racial profiling. Our cities policies and practices currently align with the goals and values associated with the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, and I’m supportive of institutional reforms such as banning chokeholds and mandatory de-escalation. Since 2008, our officers have been sent to receive training and education in crisis intervention and de-escalation practices. On the City Council, I have supported additional calls for mandatory bias training for city employees. I also support increased efforts to collect information related to mental illness and use of force incidents, as this will improve police training, response, and overall operational outcome.
Suraj Viswanathan: We should give our public safety officers greater flexibility to determine the best places to allocate resources, such as in reducing response times, focusing on crime hot spots like BART and the Great Mall, or increasing patrols in certain neighborhoods. I would work directly with the Chief of Police and the officers on the beat to determine the best strategies for fighting crime and enhancing public safety. They are in the field and they will know the best approaches. At the same time, I would strengthen community policing by encouraging more recruitment of minority officers, more multilingual officers, and assigning specific officers to ethnic neighborhoods where they share the same language and culture.
Tiffany Vuong: One of my public safety priorities is making sure that the Fire Department is properly staffed and maintained. I also want to build up our Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) so that we have informed community members in each neighborhood who are ready to respond to disasters, freeing up our firefighters and other first responders to do the specialized tasks that they are trained for. Public Safety with regards to policing needs to be reimagined. I envision a world where we can resolve our differences without the need of officers, where loud music can be addressed neighbor-to-neighbor, where the root causes of crime are eliminated, and our response to crime centers around healing and repairing harm, rather than incarceration, which separates families and does not do a good job of preventing further harm. Currently, the police respond to urgent situations, like homelessness and mental health calls that are beyond their expertise. They are also not effective responders to domestic violence calls. Studies have shown that abuse actually escalates after police respond to domestic violence. We need to build response systems that help survivors of intimate partner violence, and we need trauma-sensitive ways of addressing safety. Not only is it practical to defund the police and invest in more effective response teams, but it is also the moral thing to do if we want to actually help people and make the city safer.