First posted May 25, 2014. Updated Sept. 5, 2015, 2014, 9:50 PM. (Español)
There were four officer-involved shootings in Salinas in 2014, when the average is one per year. Many people have questions about the shootings, and we'll do our best to answer them here based on what we know so far. Please note that we can't speculate about investigations that are still in progress, but we can offer information based on the evidence we have and based on police policies. The four shootings we discuss here were of Angel Ruiz on March 20 of 2014, Osmar Hernandez (initially reported as "Osman Hernandez") on May 9, Carlos Mejia on May 20 and Frank Alvarado, Jr. on July 10.
We'll be adding and updating questions and answers, so please check back if you don't see what you're looking for yet, or if you have a suggestion, please contact us.
What is the status of the investigations into the shootings?
With the Sept. 4, 2015 release of the results of the Carlos Mejia investigation, the Monterey County District Attorney has found that the four officer-involved shootings were justified. For the investigations of the shootings of Osmar Hernandez and Carlos Mejia, Police Chief Kelly McMillin also requested two additional reviews: by the FBI and by the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ). That's because he wants to provide extra assurance that the investigations were impartial. Those reviews are in progress. Please find details of all these cases below.
The Ruiz, Hernandez and Mejia shootings were investigated by the police department and the Monterey County District Attorney. The entire investigation of the Alvarado shooting was done by the District Attorney, at the request of Chief McMillin, because of police resource constraints.
Why did the DA find the shooting of Carlos Mejia to be justified?
First, we emphasize that, whether it's legally justified or not, every death is a terrible loss. As Chief McMillin said in response to the DA's finding, "I want to start today by emphasizing once again the most important fact in any officer-involved shooting, or in any incident that involves the loss of a life: A human being died, and that is a tragedy. The death of Carlos Mejia was a tragedy for him, for the people who loved him, for the officers involved, and for our community."
Under state law, the key factor in judging an officer involved shooting is what was needed to stop a dangerous person: as the DA described it in his letter about the investigation results, "A police officer may use deadly force when the killing (1) is necessary to prevent the escape of a suspect, if where feasible some warning has been given, as long as there is probable cause to believe the suspect has committed a felony that threatened death or great bodily injury, OR (2) is necessary threat, of death or great bodily injury to the officer or others."
You can download the complete DA letter and press release from here and you can find Chief McMillin's response below.
Here is the text of the DA's press release:
Monterey County District Attorney Dean D. Flippo announced today that no charges will be filed against any police officer involved in the May 20, 2014 shooting death of Carlos Mejia Gomez. Relevant reasons for this conclusion include:
- According to Jane Doe, she heard knocking on her door at approximately noon on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Expecting a package, she opened the door and Mejia-Gomez (a person unknown to her) stepped into the threshold of her door and demanded food. Jane Doe shoved him from the threshold of her door. Mejia-Gomez responded by choking her poodle that was leashed to a tree outside the home. He produced 22 inch gardening shears with 7 inch blades, displayed the shears in a threatening manner, told Jane Doe he was going to kill her dog, exposed his penis, and told Jane Doe he was going to kill her. She called 911.
- Officers Warner and Lynd responded and immediately identified Mejia-Gomez in possession of large shears capable of being used as a stabbing instrument. They repeatedly gave verbal commands including, "Let me see your hands," "Stop," "Put your hands up," "Do not move," and "Drop it, drop the weapon" in English and Spanish.
- For over two minutes, Mejia-Gomez ignored the officers' repeated and lawful commands to surrender and put down the shears. They followed him for over a hundred yards.
- Mejia-Gomez intermittently swung the shears at the officers using them as a weapon to thwart his arrest.
- Mejia-Gomez did not surrender after both officers deployed their non-lethal tasers, which were ineffective.
- Mejia-Gomez knew the officers were pointing their guns at him while he repeatedly used the shears to resist arrest and keep the officers at a distance.
- Mejia-Gomez presented as unpredictable, irrational, and a clear and immediate danger of taking a hostage or seriously injuring or killing an innocent bystander if Mejia-Gomez entered Delicia' s Bakery or encountered a passerby.
- Time was therefore of the essence as Mejia-Gomez approached the bakery and the busy intersection of Del Monte and Sanborn, because the danger he presented escalated proportional to the increased chances that he would encounter an innocent bystander. Mejia-Gomez therefore presented an unacceptable risk to innocent bystanders as he closed on the bakery and the intersection. The officers were quickly running out of time and distance.
- When Mejia-Gomez was approximately 25 feet from the front entrance of Delicia's Bakery and the comer sidewalk at Del Monte and Sanborn, Officer Lynd moved to within 9 feet of Mejia-Gomez to "kick or knock" Mejia-Gomez to the ground in an attempt to disarm him. Officer Lynd risked his life or great bodily injury in an attempt to resolve the dangerous encounter with non-lethal force.
- In response, Mejia-Gomez stopped and turned toward Officer Lynd, within easy striking distance, while pointing the shears at him.
- If Mejia-Gomez decided to stab Officer Lynd, it would have taken no more than a second at that range.
- Self-defense does not require proof that Mejia-Gomez intended to stab Officer Lynd with the shears. The law only requires that a person using deadly force in self-defense or defense of others has a reasonable belief there is an imminent danger of great bodily injury, even if no danger actually existed.
- To charge the officers with a crime, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers had no reasonable belief that Mejia-Gomez posed an imminent danger of great bodily injury at the instant they fired.
- Mejia-Gomez' actions created a scenario which warranted a reasonable belief that he posed an imminent danger of great bodily injury or death.
- Mejia-Gomez had a .27 blood alcohol level, over three times the legal limit for driving purposes, and tested positive for methamphetamine at a level indicating he was under the influence of the drug.
Pursuant to state and federal law, any person, including a peace officer, is allowed to use deadly force in self-defense or in defense of others if the person reasonably believes the immediate use of deadly force is necessary to defend against an imminent danger of great bodily injury or death. The danger does not need to have actually existed as long as the person reasonably believed the danger existed. Further, a person acting in self-defense or defense of others is not required to retreat. The person is entitled to stand his or her ground or even, if reasonable, to pursue an assailant until the danger of death or bodily injury has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.
The scope of this review is narrow. It is not to advise concerning best practices for law enforcement in the field, but rather to determine if any officer committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Here is Chief McMillin's response to the DA's finding in the Carlos Mejia investigation, which you can also download from here:
I want to start today by emphasizing once again the most important fact in any officer-involved shooting, or in any incident that involves the loss of a life: A human being died, and that is a tragedy. The death of Carlos Mejia was a tragedy for him, for the people who loved him, for the officers involved, and for our community.
Independent of whether his death was legally justified, we have - and will continue to - constantly search for ways to reduce violence and the loss of life, no matter what the circumstances.
I also want to emphasize this once again: Police use of force should not be used - and in our department it is not used -to punish people, because they - quote - "deserved it". Mr. Mejia had just assaulted a woman, who called 911 in fear for her life. But that in itself is not a justification for his being shot.
No matter what Mr. Mejia had done, he was not shot because he deserved it. What he deserved, like everyone in the United States would deserve, was a fair trial, and to get help if he needed it. Unfortunately, Mr. Mejia's actions prevented that from happening.
Use of force is judged not based on what the suspect deserved, but by what was needed to stop someone and make an arrest under the circumstances.
As the District Attorney points out in his very detailed letter to me, Mr. Mejia was posing a very serious threat to the public and to the officers who were lawfully attempting to arrest him.
I also understand that many people think officers should not have used lethal force against Mr. Mejia because he was intoxicated and/or mentally ill. Salinas Police Officers contact intoxicated and mentally ill people every day, and very rarely use any amount of force at all. Lethal force was used against Mr. Mejia to stop the immediate threat he posed to members of the public and to the officers. In the critical moments of this encounter, the reason for Mr. Mejia's conduct had to be secondary to the danger he posed to the community.
If it had been possible to establish a secure perimeter around Mr. Mejia, we would have talked with him as long as it took to arrest him peacefully. Had Mr. Mejia surrendered his weapon as he was told to do repeatedly, we could have arrested him peacefully. We have hundreds of encounters with intoxicated or mentally ill people every year. Almost all of them end peacefully.
I would like to point out that this case is still pending review by the United States Department of Justice, a review I requested because some in the community expressed concerns that this case was a violation of Mr. Mejia's civil rights. I do not know how long that review will take. We are also continuing to work closely with the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Collaborative Reform program to improve community relations, ensure our use of force and training practices and current and improve trust between the police department and the people we serve.
As I said at the outset, while the shooting of Carlos Mejia was justified, it was a tragedy. We will continue to seek ways of reducing all violence in our community, especially by working with our community partners to address the underlying causes of violence. Force is a last resort that we don't want to use. We hope that the day will come when we never have to use it.
Why did the DA find the shooting of Angel Ruiz to be justified?
Here are excerpts from the DA's press release about his findings in this case:
- [Angel] Ruiz committed multiple violent armed robberies in the months leading up to March 20, 2014.
- According to Ruiz's daughter, in the month prior to the shooting Ruiz twice attempted suicide.
- During two telephone conversations on March 20, 2014, Ruiz told his daughter that he knew he was going to die, said his good-byes and that he was never going back to prison.
- On March 20, 2014, Ruiz texted his wife saying he was going to jump off a cliff.
- Ruiz authored a suicide note dated March 20, 2014.
- On March 20, 2014 at about 6:18 p.m., Ruiz committed a violent robbery at Jack in the Box, including shoving a gun in the victim's mouth.
- On March 20, 2014, at approximately 9:50 p.m., Ruiz pointed a gun at an employee of the Wingstop restaurant.
- The Wingstop restaurant was crowded with patrons at the time when police contacted Ruiz to arrest him.
- Ruiz refused to comply with numerous commands by police officers.
- Ruiz pulled out a firearm, later determined to be a replica, instead of raising his arms as ordered and was shot.
- Civilian witnesses corroborated the police officer's statements.
- Toxicology results show Ruiz had a blood alcohol level of .15 and potentially toxic levels of medications prescribed for psychiatric disorders.
The investigation revealed that the officers acted with a reasonable belief that Angel Ruiz posed an imminent deadly threat when officers shot him in self-defense and defense of others. At close range, he ignored officers' commands and instead pointed what looked like a semi-automatic firearm at them.... The fact that Angel Ruiz had a replica firearm rather than a real one makes no difference, as long as a person asserting self-defense had an actual and reasonable belief the gun was real. All of the officers thought the gun was real and the investigation disclosed no evidence to the contrary. In summary, it appears that Angel Ruiz decided to kill himself that day and chose to use police as the instrument of his death. Unfortunately, his plan succeeded.
The full press release from the DA can be downloaded from here.
Why did the DA find the shooting of Frank Alvarado, Jr. to be justified?
Here are excerpts from the DA's press release, which can be downloaded from here:
- According to Alvarado 's mother, Alvarado said he was not going back to prison, and that the officers would have to kill him before he would go back in.
- Alvarado ignited his family's couch and curtains on fire with a torch and physically assaulted a family member just prior to the shooting. Salinas Police Department responded .
- Alvarado ran from police holding his hand to his waist. An officer reported to dispatch that he might have a gun.
- When officers challenged Alvarado to come out with his hands up, Alvarado bobbed up and down behind a vehicle in a furtive manner while keeping his arms and hands in a shooting platform position, consistent with possession of a firearm.
- Alvarado refused to comply with numerous commands by officers.
- When officers continued to order Alvarado to surrender with his hands up, Alvarado charged the officers yelling, "Let's do this fuckers" and sprinted at a full run toward officers with his arms outstretched as if aiming a firearm. Alvarado was able to come within approximately 12 feet of Sergeant Johnson prior to stopping his charge. All of the officers believed that Alvarado possessed a firearm. The shooting occurred about 1 hour before sunrise.
- Toxicology results show Alvarado was under the influence of methamphetamine, amphetamine and Garnrna-Hydroxybutyrate (Date Rape Drugs) at the time of the offense.
Pursuant to State and Federal law, any person, including a peace officer, is allowed to use deadly force in self-defense or in defense of others if the person reasonably believes the immediate use of deadly force is necessary to defend against an immediate danger of great bodily injury or death. The danger does not need to have actually existed as long as the person reasonably believed the danger existed. Further, a person acting in self-defense or defense of others is not required to retreat. The person is entitled to stand his or her ground or even, if reasonable, to pursue an assailant until the danger of death or bodily injury has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.
The investigation revealed that the officers reacted with a reasonable belief that Frank Alvarado posed an imminent deadly threat when officers shot him in self-defense and defense of others. He charged the officers and intentionally simulated an assault with a firearm while pointing his outstretched arms at officers yelling, "Let's do this fuckers," in a challenging way. Even before California became a state in 1850, the law of self-defense and defense of others has never required an actual threat. The fact that Frank Alvarado had a cell phone instead of a firearm makes no difference, as long as a person asserting self-defense had an actual and reasonable belief the object was a deadly weapon. The officers unanimously believed the cell phone was a gun. The subsequent investigation disclosed no evidence rendering their belief unreasonable before or at the instant of the shooting. Alvarado's words and actions, made the officers' belief reasonable. In summary, it appears that Frank Alvarado, as in so many similar situations, while under the influence of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs, committed suicide at the hands of the police which impacted his family as well as the involved officers. He chose to force the police to kill him instead of returning to prison.
Why did the DA find the shooting of Osmar Hernandez to be justified?
Below are excerpts from the DA's press release (which can be downloaded from here), followed by Chief McMillin's response to the DA's finding.
From the DA's Press Release:
- Hernandez was heavily intoxicated (blood alcohol level of .25), having consumed enough alcohol so that he was three times the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle.
- Hernandez was extremely belligerent; he threatened to kill a man at a bar and was brandishing a 9 Y2 inch knife. The bartender removed the knife, only to later return it.
- He threatened numerous civilians outside the bar resulting in multiple calls to 911.
- He was yelling and acting erratically and unpredictably. He transformed an otherwise normal Friday afternoon of shopping by scores of innocent people into a chaotic, frightening, and life threatening scenario. A mother and her children fled from Hernandez in fear and hid in a store while Hernandez pursued them.
- Innocent civilians were in close proximity. Any one of them could have been harmed if officers did not act promptly and decisively.
- Hernandez repeatedly refused to comply with police orders.
- Ignoring commands, Hernandez advanced three steps toward an officer and was tased which resulted in no effect requiring the officer to deploy the taser a second time.
- An additional officer attempted to use less than lethal force to subdue Hernandez, by tasing Hernandez a third time. This did not incapacitate Hernandez or cause him to comply with lawful commands.
- At any time Hernandez could have surrendered and ended the crisis. Instead, Hernandez emphatically refused and continued to unpredictably escalate the encounter.
- Hernandez blew a kiss toward a K9 officer, saying in Spanish "Please forgive me"
- Still refusing to submit to lawful authority, when commanded to roll over on his stomach and place his hands behind his head, Hernandez instead reached for a knife in his waistband.
- When Hernandez reached for his knife, an officer, who was vulnerable to attack because he held only an empty taser, was standing next to Hernandez within striking distance and was in imminent danger of great bodily injury.
- The officers who fired made a split second decision because they feared for the safety of their fellow officer and for themselves. Most estimates placed officers as close as two feet from Hernandez when he reached for his knife.
Under California law, the officers were under no obligation to retreat. To the contrary, they were permitted to stand their ground. They had a duty to protect themselves , their partners, and the general public.
Hernandez was close enough to slash or stab an officer with his knife. In light of all the facts, including that Hernandez reached for his knife while disobeying commands, was intransigent and reckless, and acted unpredictably and irrationally. He was armed, dangerous, in close proximity to officers, and reached for a knife. The law requires an assessment from a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than from 20/20 hindsight.
Again, the purpose of this review is not to advise concerning best practices for police in the field, but to determine whether proof beyond a reasonable doubt supports a conviction. On these facts, it does not.
The investigation revealed that the officers reacted with a reasonable belief that Osmar Hernandez posed an imminent deadly threat when officers shot him in self-defense and defense of others.
Hernandez's words and actions, made the officers' belief reasonable.
Chief McMillin's July 10, 2015 response to the DA's finding about Osmar Hernandez:
As in every case like this, we would much prefer not to use force, and force is not used to punish people, or because they "deserved it" — as in all cases of use of force it would have been far better if Mr. Hernandez could have been arrested without force, so he could face a fair trial, and if he needed it, get help. The way use of force is judged is by what was needed to stop someone and make the arrest under the circumstances.
Mr. Hernandez was posing a very serious threat to the public. We had several 911 calls about a man who was very drunk or high, roaming through a crowded area and threatening to slash terrified people with a long, sharp knife, pausing to sharpen it on the pavement before continuing to threaten more people.
Officers made multiple attempts to stop him with no force and with lower levels of forces. In English and Spanish, they repeatedly ordered him to stop, drop his weapon and surrender. They attempted to Tase him three times.
Here's a very important point for people to understand about why and when lethal force is used: When someone refuses an officer's command to drop a weapon, they are immediately placing themselves in grave danger — because they have placed the officers and any bystanders in grave danger. And remember, there were hundreds of people in and around the shopping center at the time of this incident. Think about it: If a police officer orders someone to drop a weapon and they refuse to do it, what possible reason could they have for that? Officers have to assume they intend to use the weapon.
I understand that many people think officers should wait for an armed person to attack them. What people don't realize is that, unlike in the movies or on TV, once somebody starts to draw a gun or raise a knife, it's probably too late to respond -- you are going to be shot or stabbed before you can do anything about it. There's no "out-drawing" the other person, because human reaction times are not fast enough. People armed with knives can lunge forward over a long distance in a fraction of a second — again, it's only in the movies and on TV that police somehow have faster-than-human reflexes.
For these reasons, Mr. Hernandez placed his own life was in grave danger from the moment he refused to drop his weapon -- especially after he had been so aggressive and had ignored repeated verbal orders and three attempted Taser shots. But our officers did not fire at him until he reached for his knife. Only at that point did they fire, for the reasons I just described. At that moment, the closest officer was only about two feet away from him — Mr. Hernandez could easily have stabbed or slashed him, before the officer would have any chance of protecting himself.
That officer and the other officers nearby recognized the extreme, immediate danger, not only to themselves but to the many innocent people nearby. That's why they fired.
All of the people shot by police were Latinos. Were the police targeting Latinos?
Absolutely not. But we understand and acknowledge the emotions behind that question.
The Salinas Police Department has long followed strict policies against any form of social injustice. But as a community, Salinas, like much of America, has a painful history of discrimination against minorities. In our case it has often been Latinos who have suffered.
As a community we are still healing from that history – the process is not over.
But it is a fundamental principle for the Salinas Police Department that everyone, no matter what their background, must be treated with fairness and respect. Any police officer who violates this principle faces the strictest sanctions. If you're wondering why you should believe that, please see "Why should I believe you?" below.
Why were so many people shot by police?
The four shootings by police officers last year were very unusual – in recent years the average for Salinas is one officer-involved shooting per year -- out of thousands of arrests and tens of thousands of contacts.
All the shootings are being very thoroughly investigated. When things happen in a cluster like this, it often looks like they must be connected – as in, "suddenly the police are shooting more people." But random clusters of events are common, and there is no evidence these shootings are connected.
If the shootings aren't connected, why did they all involve Latinos?
In Salinas, 77% of the population is Latino. That means that, all other things being equal, nearly 8 out of 10 of the small number of people who commit violent crimes would probably be Latino -- just because nearly 8 out of 10 people who do everything in Salinas are Latino. That includes all the good things, which are far more common.
In reality, more than 9 out 10 of the small number of people who commit violent crimes are Latino -- but not because they're Latino, of course. Mountains of research show that violent crime is more likely in underserved neighborhoods, meaning neighborhoods that suffer from poverty, lack of services and lack of opportunity. In Salinas, those neighborhoods are much more likely to be Latino. In other areas, it's other groups who live in underserved neighborhoods, and those neighborhoods also have higher crime rates.
In short, what we see in Salinas is that when police have contact with a violent person, that person is likely to be Latino, but that's because (a) everyone is likely to be Latino, and (b) violent crime is more common in underserved neighborhoods.
I read a story that says the Salinas police are guilty of "murders of innocent people" who were unarmed - what do you say to that?
A widely-shared story from AntiMedia.org radically re-interprets a responsibly reported story from ktvu.org. We hope you'll read our corrections, and compare the AntiMedia story to the ktvu.org story they re-interpreted. And if you've shared the AntiMedia story, we hope you'll share the corrections.
Why did the police shoot Carlos Mejia (the man with the shears seen in a cell phone video) when he was walking away from them?
They didn't. When you slow down and zoom in on the cell phone video, you see that the officers did not shoot Mr. Mejia when he was walking away, they shot him when he turned and attacked them with the shears. More context is added by a surveillance camera video as well as by a 911 call from a woman who said Mr. Mejia was trying to break into her house and assault her.
Police Chief Kelly McMillin took reporters through the videos and audio at a press conference on May 22, 2014.
- Find the Salinas Californian's coverage of the press conference here.
- See KSBW-TV's analysis of the cell phone video here.
- See the 911 call transcript here.
Why didn't the police Tase Mr. Mejia?
They tried to, twice. The first officer fired his Taser, but it malfunctioned. Then the second officer fired his, but one of its contacts struck a telephone pole, which prevented it from having any effect.
Why didn't they shoot him in the arm or leg?
Although you see that happen on TV and in the movies, that's not what police are trained to do. When an armed person attacks, their first priority is to stop the threat to public safety as fast as possible. There are many cases of civilians and police being seriously injured or killed by armed, violent people who have been wounded. So police are trained to use enough force to stop the threat immediately.
Why did they shoot him more than once?
Once someone attacks, police are trained to stop the threat, both to themselves and members of the public. We can't at this point know exactly what the officers' judgment was, but it's common for police to shoot multiple times to stop a threat.
Why did they get close enough for him to attack them?
To stop a violent person with a weapon, police have to gain physical control of him, typically by putting him in handcuffs. They start by ordering the person to drop the weapon and surrender, and then need to get control of the person as soon as possible so they can prevent harm to members of the public.
Why did the police leave Mr. Mejia's body uncovered?
Police never cover a body before investigators arrive, because doing that would contaminate evidence. Instead, out of respect for the dead and in consideratiion of onlookers, they put up a visual barrier. That's what the police did in this case.
What is the police department's policy on use of force?
Please click here for a PDF of our use of force policy document.
Why did the police put up security cameras near the scene of the Mejia shooting?
Witnesses of the incident have reported they've been threatened and intimidated. The cameras are there temporarily to help with the investigation of the threats and intimidation and to help protect the witnesses.
Why have the cameras been taken down?
Two of them had stopped working (this is not uncommon -- we only have a few, and they're quite old), and the third was needed elsewhere.
Why should I believe you?
We expect to be held accountable by our actions, not just our words. Here are some of our actions:
After the recent shootings
- We know that some people don't trust "cops investigating cops." We think if they could see how strict, thorough and impartial the internal investigations are, they'd change their minds. But because of the level of concern right now, Chief McMillin has asked for a total of three independent reviews of the police department's investigations. In addition to the standard review by the Monterey County District Attorney, Chief McMillin has asked for an additional review by the FBI and a third one by the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.
- The Salinas Police and the City of Salinas are recognized nationally as leaders in reducing crime through a community-based strategy of prevention, intervention and re-entry services, working to reduce the need for enforcement. Salinas was invited to be a founding member of the President's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, which is focused on community-based solutions to crime and on the recognition that "you can't arrest your way out of the problem."
- Salinas is the leading agency in the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, (CASP) which brings together community groups, social services, the faith community, local governments and law enforcement around the Prevention-Intervention-Enforcement-Re-entry (PIER) strategy. Even though Salinas is facing severe budget shortages, it dedicates a full-time staff member to serve as the manager of CASP and give it every possible support. The Police Department is also facing shortages, and is seriously under-staffed, but it has assigned two full-time "CASP officers" to the Hebbron Heights neighborhood of the Alisal. These officers, who have been recognized nationally for their work, make very few arrests, devoting almost all of their time to assisting members of the community and building connections among families, neighborhoods, community groups and service providers.
- Chief McMillin has committed the police department to the legitimacy and procedural justice model of policing, which holds that true authority comes not from the use or fear of force but from the trust of the community. According to a recent KSBW-TV story: "The method recognizes that people want to feel heard, feel respected and want to know their police are neutral and trustworthy." The Salinas Police Department is the first on the West Coast to train all officers in legitimacy and procedural justice.
- The Salinas Police Department is among the pioneers in using the Operation Ceasefire strategy, which has led to dramatic reductions in violence in cities across the country while improving relationships between police and the communities they serve. Operation Ceasefire's originator, David Kennedy, mentions the Salinas Police in his ground-breaking book Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America.
- Chief McMillin was recognized by the White House in 2012 as a Champion of Change. The recognition was for his work to prevent youth violence within the community through Operation Ceasefire and the CASP strategy.