Nov. 15th, a request from former Chief of Police Matt Basgall was brought before the council for consideration to create a citizens committee. The committee would evaluate the status of the Clovis PD and where there could be improvements or changes.
During the previous City Council meeting, current Chief of Police Curt Fleming presented his State of the Clovis Police Department report. The results of this report showed that the population of Clovis has continued to grow while the number of officers budgeted had decreased.
This led to the council’s consideration of a citizens committee to provide another perspective on the status of Clovis PD.
Basgall spoke as a citizen to the council before they could deliberate on the request. He explained why he created it in the first place.
“My only purpose of putting that letter forward is to help,” Basgall said. “What can I do as a citizen of Clovis to also bring other citizens of Clovis together to come up with an idea, solution, something that we can bring back to council, or through council’s direction, and say this is where we wanna go, this is what we wanna do, and how can we get our staffing levels back up for policing.”
Each member of council gave their perspective on the significance of the citizens committee.
Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck stated that the committee should be given an accurate education on the information provided and what the scope of the information should be.
“The question is what kind of a city do we want to live in, not whether we want a tax, skip the question,” Ashbeck said. “What kind of a city do you want to live in and what are you willing to pay for it? People need to understand if we do nothing, that’s a choice to forsure we can do exactly what we’re doing right now and then they need to understand the consequences of what will happen.”
Councilmember Drew Bessinger spoke next and explained the significance of starting the committee as soon as possible.
“I think the sooner the better because we’re going to have an election in November of 22 and this would be the opportunity for us to get this in front of the citizens so that they could say yes, no,” Bessinger said. “Even then in November 22, a year from now, it’ll probably be 14 months if it’s approved for us to be able to hire people to fill those positions because in the next, probably, 20 months I would bet we’re going to have at least 20 of our law enforcement officers leaving to retirement or injury or any number of things.”
Councilmember Bob Whalen followed Bessinger and emphasized the significance of the council still owning the decisions made from the citizens committee since they appointed those involved.
“We cannot abdicate our responsibility,” Whalen said. “If we are required to make the tough decisions, let’s own it. Let’s not abdicate that, let’s accept it.”
Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua explained that he wants the committee to look at everything and bring what they want back to the council.
“I am all for how do we keep Clovis the safest city in the valley,” Mouanoutoua said. “What is the current situation, how do we get to where we want to be? Citizens tell us what you want that you think is going to be the safest and the best community to live in and then bring us those options.”
Councilmember Bessinger brought up another important point. Bessinger stated that when putting the council together, all members of the community should be involved.
From those who live in apartment complexes, to those who live in gated communities, Bessinger emphasized that all diversities of city living should be involved.
Mayor Jose Flores was in agreement with Bessinger’s take on the building of the committee.
“When we decide to form a committee, it has to be a diverse committee,” Flores said. “We have to be inclusive, we have to bring like Drew [Bessinger] said everybody. From the apartment dwellers and the people that are the least among us to the people that live in the big estates in Clovis. People that have two different experiences with the police because we need to know what their input is and how they feel about what we’re trying to do.”
Mayor Flores also agreed with Councilmember Whalen’s take on owning the outcome of the committee and their decisions.
As the council made their final deliberation on the citizens committee request, the decisions resulted as follows:
- A citizens committee will be created with a facilitator and follow the Brown Act guidelines.
- Each council member will choose five members for a total of 25 members.
- The scope of what the committee will evaluate is Clovis PD using the staff reports from the State of Department report and also evaluate the funding/spending of the department. If a tax is needed, where will it come from. The message of the scope is to see how to keep Clovis as the safest city in the valley.
- Council will be able to participate if they choose to do so.
To view the entire meeting and all details of this agenda, you can view the meeting on the City of Clovis YouTube page. You can also visit the City of Clovis website and click on the tab “agendas”.