July 16, 2014.
The website AntiMedia.org published a story that claims Salinas Police have committed "murders" of unarmed, innocent people. Many people have assumed the story was true, and have shared it with others, thereby unintentionally spreading misinformation. Below is our response to the story. We hope you'll read it and, if you've shared the AntiMedia story, please share the link to the page you're reading now: http://bit.ly/1r4ZNJB
It's far from true that all cops abuse their authority, just as crimes committed by a few people don't mean that everyone like them is also a criminal.
And it's far from true of the Salinas police.
To have four people die in officer-involved shootings in Salinas so far this year extremely unusual and terribly upsetting to everyone in the community, including the police. Salinas police are highly trained in non-violent crisis intervention, are often called on to train other departments in the responsible use of force, and rarely fire their weapons: on average, officer-involved shootings happen about once a year in Salinas, even though officers often face very dangerous situations because of a serious gang violence problem. Every officer-involved shooting is very thoroughly investigated, and because of public concern over the recent cluster of shootings, the Police Chief, Kelly McMillin, has asked for extra reviews by the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.
All four shootings are under investigation and that limits the police's ability to comment on them. Within that limitation, here are some corrections.
It isn't true that the four people killed this year were unarmed. The first three were armed, and as the Monterey County DA reported at a press conference the day after, the fourth, Frank Alvarado, charged officers while holding a cell phone in front of him like a gun - the story is reported here:
Mr. Alvarado was not shot for "unspecified reasons" and the police did not "offer no explanation." Information about this case has to come from the DA; he provided it at his press conference the day after the shooting, and will be providing more.
It's wrong to assert without evidence that these were "murders of innocent people."
There is no "long history of the Salinas police's body count." The story AntiMedia links to (same link) is about the recent four shootings, which date back to March. They are an extraordinary anomaly in Salinas history.
The Salinas police are committed to avoiding the use of force wherever humanly possible. As it says in the department's Use of Force Policy:
Officers must have an understanding of, and true appreciation for, their authority and limitations. This is especially true with respect to overcoming resistance while engaged in the performance of law enforcement duties. The Department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone.
The department's record has led to its recognition as one of the most professional and progressive police departments in the state of California. It has also earned national recognition through the City's membership in the White House's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, its implementation of the ground-breaking Operation Ceasefire program and its adoption of the principles of Legitimacy and Procedural Justice. Chief McMillin was named by President Obama as a Champion of Change for his commitment to enlightened solutions to violence.
For any readers who would like to get more facts about the recent shootings, we have FAQs on our website:
The media in and around Monterey County, California are also covering the story in detail, as you see in the stories linked to above.