Amourence Lee · LIKE IT IS with MAYOR LEE
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  • Writer's pictureCouncilwoman Lee

Community Policing in San Mateo

A Message of Freedom & Accountability

Message to protestors from Former Mayor of San Mateo Claire Mack. We need to care enough to listen to our elders.

Peninsula poets, artists, and leaders including former Mayor of Belmont Davina Hurt participated in a poetry reading in honor of George Floyd. She called on us to lift every voice in the reading of her favorite poem Caged Bird by Maya Angelou. 🇺🇲

"The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom."

In San Mateo, we are planning a virtual town hall on our community policing strategy to answer questions from our community members about our hiring and training policy and practices. Mayor Goethals said, "It is so important to hire a diverse workforce that reflects the community, to give them the best tools and training, and to continue to support them throughout their service with the understanding that they serve all residents in our community.  Additionally, we must hold them accountable for wrongdoing."

A Message from Chief Ed Barberini & Your Invitation to Join SMPD in a Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, June 2nd

Your San Mateo Police Department’s objective is to protect our community and preserve the quality of life for all of those whom we are sworn to protect. The senseless tragedy of Mr. George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis is another reminder of how much work we must do to promote a society where everyone is afforded equitable treatment and protections under the law. We are motivated every day to the constant improvement of the San Mateo Police Department, and as a law enforcement agency, those of us that serve our communities honorably, daily, are angry, disappointed, and frustrated when our noble profession is compromised by the actions of one.

“This is a huge step back for us as a profession and compromises the trust we work so hard to build. We’re better than this and no one despises the bad cops more than the good cops.”- Officer Rory McMilton, San Mateo Police Officers’ Association President. We have, and will continue to have, no tolerance for those who choose to tarnish the badge or our commitment to serve and do what is right. No one, regardless of race, sex, or creed should ever be afraid to reside, work in, or visit any community within our nation.

We pride ourselves in San Mateo for maintaining a diverse and educated workforce who are provided the most advanced training and are held accountable for their actions. Our officers undergo continual training throughout their career with our city. They have been trained to recognize the differences between racial bias and signs of criminal or suspicious activity. We’ve invested in extensive procedural justice training, crisis intervention techniques, advanced de-escalation communication tactics, implemented the use of body-worn cameras to ensure transparency, and have embraced California’s Act to Save Lives (AB392).

Police officers are required to think on their feet and make split-second, life-altering decisions – often by themselves, with no back-up. It is critical to SMPD’s public safety mission that through proper policy, training, and oversight, we give our personnel the framework they need to make the very best of these decisions. The stress placed on them is tremendous, and while there’s no excuse for injustice, we ask you to remember that police officers are human. Therefore, in addition to providing an outstanding array of policy, training, and equipment, services are also made available to our officers to practice self-care by maintaining their physical and mental health.

Our officers are reminded daily that our community’s eyes are on them, and we are lucky enough to have a supportive community and work with you, our community leaders, to discuss trends, concerns, and keep you informed on both the policing and engagement front. And, that’s why we will be hosting a Virtual Town Hall to discuss this important topic with our residents, and invite you to join us on Tuesday, June 2nd at 5 p.m. In doing so, our officers can hear from the community on how to better provide the safety and quality of life expected within the city of San Mateo.

We must respond to criminal actions with justice, show compassion for those who need guidance, and meet opposition with empathy. Together, let’s move towards a more equitable and just future. Let us hear from you and see what more we can do to serve you better as your police department. Our goal is to Protect with Honor and Serve with Pride.

Chief Ed Barberini


June 2, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Password: 379867

Join by Phone: Dial: (408) 638-0968 | Password: 890 5026 2584

New Technology Improving Neighborhood Safety

Police Chief Ed Barberini and I spent the afternoon discussing new technology to combat crime - including automatic license plate reader (ALPR) technology and small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS).

San Mateo started our ALPR program in 2011. The department currently has 6 mobile units which are rotated around the City. Shopping areas close to the free-ways are particularly vulnerable and would benefit from increased surveillance. "Smash and grab" car thefts at The Fish Market and Hillsdale Mall parking lots have raised concerns for many residents and business owners, who have called for more police surveillance. The Flock system will expand our ALPR program to more fixed locations that are vulnerable to property crimes and gang-related activity, and provide near real-time data to rapidly deploy officers in the field and locate and apprehend criminals. Advancements in ALPR technology have significantly lowered the cost which presents an opportunity to enhance our policing surveillance and save an estimated 45% per unit over the 5 year service-life.

Arial perspective is a vital tool for search and rescue operations, but in years past it was limited to manned aircrafts such as helicopters. Drones or sUAS are significantly less expensive and offer more reliable, faster, and maneuverable deployment. I strongly support our Police Department to maintain two operational ready sUAS aircrafts - with different and complementary capabilities. The units will be a great resource for our police officers as well as the San Mateo Consolidated Fire Department.

These cost-effective technology upgrades will make certain dangerous situations safer for our officers, and make our neighborhoods, businesses, and our entire community safer. For some, this raises questions about privacy. It is reassuring to note that the City of San Mateo was singled out as exemplary in the San Mateo County Grand Jury's Report, A Delicate Balance - Privacy vs. Protection.

If you are interested in improving safety in your neighborhood, get involved with the City's Neighborhood Watch Program and sign up for Nixle to receive community alerts.

Preventing Gun Violence

In January, I helped organize moms (dads and grandparents) in San Mateo to elevate the issue of gun violence in City Hall, and urged San Mateo to adopt a Safe Gun Storage Ordinance, which will be scheduled for a Study Session in the coming months. I'm excited to join friends in Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence in the upcoming Wear Orange Virtual Event to raise awareness about gun violence on June 6th @ 10am.

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Councilmember Lee, I'm so grateful for your voice in the conversation on community policing. Thank you for highlighting the poetry event. A recording is here:

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