Becoming an Inclusive Community
A Message From the Mayor
When I decided to first run for Town Council, I was warned that Los Gatos was not ready to elect a woman of color. That was 2014, and since then I have won two elections and am serving as Mayor of the Town of Los Gatos for the second time. When I think back to that statement, I think how foolish it was to underestimate the good that is within our community. When I think back to that statement, I work harder to make Los Gatos even more welcoming. I have and will continue to promote awareness, acceptance and accountability.
As Town leaders, we have a responsibility to address and counter racism and discrimination in all its forms. The Town of Los Gatos is committed to diversity, equity and inclusivity. We will do our part to dismantle any existing systems fostering explicit or implicit racism. We will work individually, within our government, and our community to advocate and advance fundamental rights, safety, and respect of all people. We will highlight areas of needed growth and change. We will start authentic conversations that contribute to deeper understanding, compassion, and community healing.
It takes a town to meet this commitment and we look forward to working with you to meet these goals.
Los Gatos Mayor
February 22, 2021
The Town of Los Gatos is committed to inclusivity. We value all our community members, regardless of religion, immigration status, ethnicity, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We strive to ensure all community members feel safe, respected, and comfortable to be themselves and express all aspects of their identities. We work proactively to ensure the rights and opportunities of everyone in Town and oppose any attempts to undermine the safety, security, and rights of any members of our community.
The Town promotes equal treatment, equitable distribution of and access to resources, and engagement in issues affecting the lives of residents, workers, and visitors. The Town does not tolerate discrimination, hate, racial injustice, or police brutality.
This webpage will be kept updated with the Town's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, including actions taken by the Town Council, Police reform work, and other efforts by all Town Departments, Boards, Commissions, and Committees. Please check back often for updates.
April 6, 2021 Council Meeting - Stopping Hate with District Attorney Rosen
March 16, 2021 Town Council Meeting - Police Reform Update
The Town Council accepted the quarterly Police Reform Update Report, discussed the Town's collaboration with County Behavioral Health Services for mental health calls, and expressed support for other mental health service models that the County is developing. Staff from Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services presented an overview of the Mobile Crisis Response Team and the collaboration with law enforcement agencies in the County. This is one of a growing number of programs in the nation that bridges law enforcement and social services to address crisis situations. In addition to a discussion of mental health issues, the staff report includes updates on traffic stop data, use of force, training, the Independent Police Auditor function, and responses to non-emergency calls. The meeting minutes are available on the Town website. A full video recording of the Council meeting is available on the Town YouTube page.
January 26, 2021 Special Town Council Meeting - Strategic Priorities
The Town Council unanimously voted to affirm the Town goals of Community Character, Good Governance, Fiscal Stability, Civic Enrichment, Public Safety, and Quality Public Infrastructure and the ongoing Strategic Priorities for 2021 - 2023 of Safety, Quality of Life, Traffic/Transportation, and Prudent Financial Management. The Council unanimously agreed to add Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to the Quality of Life item. The staff report and meeting minutes are available on the Town website. A full video recording of the Council meeting is available on the Town YouTube page.
November 3, 2020 Town Council Meeting - Police Reform
Council unanimously voted to:
- Work with the County of Santa Clara regarding responses to mental health and homeless calls for service and provide a status report on an annual basis.
- Authorize the Town Manager to establish an Independent Police Auditor function with reports released to the public on a quarterly basis and a goal of selecting diverse rotating investigators with a preference for retired attorneys and judges.
- Ask staff to return to the Council with a proposal for a Community Service Officer to respond to non-emergency calls during the next budget cycle.
- Acknowledge the timeline for Police Department stop data availability and transparency. The data includes time, date, and location of the stop; reason and resulting action of the stop; perceived race or ethnicity, gender and approximate age of the person stopped (based solely on observation as officers are disallowed from requesting the information); etc. and will be collated for presentation to the Town Council and the public by July 2021. The information will then be posted to the Department’s website and augmented with future annual reporting periods.
On February 19, 2021, a Request for Qualifications for Independent Police Auditor Services was released.
October 6, 2020 Town Council Meeting - Below Market Price Housing
The Town Council unanimously voted to approve a proposed Ordinance to amend the Town Code regarding the Below Market Price Housing Program. Council also unanimously voted to adopt a proposed Resolution to modify the Below Market Price Housing Program Guidelines with an additional modification to add points for low income applicants. The staff report and meeting minutes are available on the Town website. A full video recording of the Council meeting is available on the Town YouTube page.
September 15, 2020 Town Council Meeting - Direction for Police Reform
The Town Council unanimously voted to determine a police oversight model, provide increased transparency and public access to police data, utilize non-sworn personnel for non-emergency calls when possible, examine options for providing mental health services, and explore potential modifications to role of the School Resource Officer in consultation with local school districts. The staff report and meeting minutes are available on the Town website. A full video recording of the Council meeting is available on the Town YouTube page.
On June 17, 2020 the Mayor of Los Gatos, Marcia Jensen, signed the Obama Foundation’s Mayor Pledge, committing to the following actions:
- Review Police Department Use of Force Policies.
- Engage the community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in the review.
- Report the findings of the review to the community and seek feedback.
- Reform the community’s Police Department Use of Force Policies.
On September 8, 2020 the Town hosted a Community Workshop regarding Police Practices and potential changes were reviewed and discussed with community input at the September 15, 2020 and November 3, 2020 Town Council meetings. The Town Council approved a number of Police Department reforms.
On November 3, 2020, the Los Gatos Town Council unanimously authorized the Town Manager to establish an Independent Police Auditor (IPA) function with a preference given for retired attorneys or judges and no more than two former Police command staff. The Police Chief may see the reports but cannot alter them and quarterly updates shall be provided to the Town Council and the community. On February 19, 2021, a Request for Qualifications for Independent Police Auditor Services was released. On May 18, 2021, the Town Council authorized the Town Manager to execute agreements with Burke, Williams & Sorensen, Richards Watson & Gershon, and the Renne Public Law Group for Independent Police Auditor Investigation Services. The staff report and attachments (including each of the proposals) can be viewed here.
The Town Council also unanimously agreed to ask staff to work with the County of Santa Clara regarding responses to mental health and homeless calls for service, with the understanding that response times will be reviewed annually to monitor how well the County positions are staffed and response times to the Town’s calls for service.
The Council unanimously voted to acknowledge the timeline for police stop data availability and transparency. The data includes time, date, and location of the stop; reason and resulting action of the stop; perceived race or ethnicity, gender and approximate age of the person stopped (based solely on observation as officers are disallowed from requesting the information); etc. and will be collated for presentation to the Town Council and the public by July 2021. The information will then be posted to the Department’s website and augmented with future annual reporting periods.
Additionally, Town Council unanimously agreed to ask staff to consider adding a limited dated Community Service Officer position to the Town’s budget process for the 2021/2022 fiscal year.
The Town Council considered a quarterly update on all Police Reforms on March 16, 2021 (see "Council Actions" for details).
Inclusivity and the Police Department
The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department’s vision of providing exceptional law enforcement services, building community partnerships, and engaging the community in problem solving demonstrates its commitment to inclusivity. The ultimate goal of the Police Department is to know each person in our diverse community. Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Officers and staff are working to foster and strengthen community relationships through partnerships, collaboration, and individual communications.
Because the misconduct of some Police Officers throughout the country has shone a spotlight on the conduct of Police Officers everywhere, it is important that the public know that all Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Officers:
- Wear body cameras, and every police vehicle is equipped with an in-car camera system. Internal Police Department regulations require that all law enforcement interactions be recorded.
- Participate in mandated anti-racism and anti-profiling training. In addition, each Officer provided an opportunity to complete additional training to address implicit bias and best practices for fair and impartial policing, with emphasis on an understanding and respect for cultural diversity.
- Participate in de-escalation and crisis intervention training.
- Undergo complete background investigations prior to hiring, including an “open source” review of social media posts, and serve an 18-month probation when starting with the Town.
- Are held accountable through a thorough investigation process for any complaints received regarding any alleged misconduct.
- Abide by strict use of force procedures, including a review of every use of force.
Los Gatos is rightly proud of its Police Department and its “guardian” approach to keep the public safe and ensure the public peace. The Department continuously reviews its policies and procedures to employ the best practices of community policing. This is critical to establishing and maintaining the public trust.
The Neighborhood Watch program is one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and engage the community. Neighborhood Watch fights the isolation that crime both creates and feeds upon. It forges bonds among area residents, helps reduce burglaries and robberies and improves relations between police and the communities they serve. For more information on how to get involved, visit the Police Neighborhood Watch webpage.
The Police Department also works directly with the community on emergency preparedness through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). This 21-hour course offers training in disaster preparation response and recovery skills and is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). CERT is an all-volunteer, community-based emergency preparedness organization, supported by and operating within the command structure of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department. The primary mission of LGMS CERT is to provide support and assistance to our communities and emergency services personnel during emergencies or disasters. But an equally important mission is to increase the overall level of disaster readiness by training and educating individuals within the communities of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno in emergency preparedness and basic disaster response techniques. For details on how you can join, please visit the CERT webpage.
In order to better assist the community and help improve interactions with those who have special needs, in 2020 the Police Department launched the Special Needs Awareness Program (SNAP). SNAP is a voluntary and confidential program with no cost to enroll. It is designed to provide First Responders with important information when responding to calls that involve individuals who may have a memory disorder, hearing impairment, autism or other behavioral disability. For details, visit the SNAP webpage.
The Los-Gatos Monte Sereno Police Department’s Use of Force Policy and Oversight can be viewed here. Among other provisions, the Department prohibits the use of chokeholds, requires Officers to use all reasonable means to de-escalate a situation before force is used, and mandates a duty to intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force if it is observed. In all contacts with the public, Department members strive to act with integrity, compassion, and professionalism.
The Automated License Plate Reader Policy can be viewed here.
The Police Department Policy Manual can be viewed here. Due to continuous changes in the law and operational policies, the Policy Manual remains a fluid document. The Department is continuously reviewing and updating its policies and procedures to ensure that it is employing the best practices for hiring, training, eliminating bias, and ensuring the public's safety.
Santa Clara County Mobile Crisis Response Team
The County Behavioral Health Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) is one of a growing number of programs in the nation that bridges law enforcement and social services to address crisis situations. The MCRT collaborates with law enforcement agencies in the County, including the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department.
Calls for service to the MCRT come directly from the public (1-800-704-0900) or from law enforcement agencies 24/7. The teams respond to individuals in crisis that exhibit mental health symptoms, may be suicidal, or at-risk and need an evaluation for psychiatric hospitalization. Teams are made of up licensed clinicians and therapists with training and expertise in crisis response. MCRT clinicians assess the situation and if there is a possibility of violence, the clinicians will call for law enforcement support. Officers may stand by or assist in calming the situation, depending on the circumstances. Mobile Crisis Response Teams work closely with law enforcement, crisis hotlines, the community, and family members. The services include crisis screening, intervention, de-escalation services, and referrals to community resources.
Contact information for the MCRT is as follows and services are available to anyone in Santa Clara County 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
1-800-704-0900 (for adults age 18 and over)
(408) 379-9085 (for minors under age 18)
Services are available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Town's Work
All Town Departments shall use a lens of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the development of the Town budget, delivery of services, and the creation of all new programs, projects, and policies. All proposed policies and ordinances will be reviewed in this context.
The Town is also working to expand its community engagement and Commission recruitment efforts to include more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. All Town Boards, Committees and Commissions will have an opportunity to consider how to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into their work and to discuss that with the Town Council.
At the March 23, 2021 Council Policy Committee meeting, the Committee reviewed the Town's Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts and future work plan items. The Committee asked staff to focus efforts on community partnerships, expanded outreach, and an additional Community Workshop. The staff report, meeting minutes, and meeting audio are available on the Town website.
Gender Neutralization of the Town Code
In 2021, as the Town works to create more inclusive environments for both staff and citizens, Gender Neutralization of the Code is an important milestone in the process. The older language within the Code contains increasingly obsolete gender-specific terms such as “she”, “he”, “chairman”, “policeman” and other gender-specific terminology that is not inclusive. The Town is currently working to revise the Code to be gender neutral.
Parks and Public Works Department - Utility Box Art Program
The Parks and Public Works Department is currently accepting applications for the "Outside the Box" utility box art program. Successful proposals will integrate diversity, equity and inclusion while demonstrating a sense of community, sustainability, and creativity, further enhancing the culture of the Town. The chosen designs will be converted into a vinyl wrap and installed on select utility boxes around Town. For more information on the program and how to apply, please see the utility box art program webpage.
Complete Streets Commission - Race in Transportation Lecture Series
Parks and Public Works Director Matt Morley and members of the Complete Streets and Transportation Commission attended a UCLA lecture series on "Race in Transportation" to learn and explore ideas for making Town transportation more equitable. This lecture series featured national experts on a range of topics around transportation, race, and equity and was presented by the UCLA Department of Urban Planning and the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies.
Los Gatos Library - Represent Los Gatos: Oral History Project
General Plan Advisory Committee Meetings
On July 30 2020, the General Plan Update Advisory Committee (GPAC) held a special meeting to discuss the topics of racial, social, and environmental justice in the General Plan. The GPAC decided by consensus to add a new Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice Element to the General Plan. On December 3, 2020 the Committee reviewed the draft Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice Element. On April 1, 2021, the Committee reviewed an updated draft based on comments received at the December 3 meeting, and provided further feedback and revisions. Comments from the April 1 meeting will be incorporated into the revised draft Element and next presented to the Committee as part of their review of the full Preliminary Draft General Plan at their meeting the first week of May. For more information on the Los Gatos 2040 General Plan Update, please visit www.LosGatos2040.com.
Resources from the July 30, December 3, and April 1 meetings are linked below:
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Connect with Us
We want to hear your thoughts! Do you have concerns, experiences, questions, or ideas regarding how Los Gatos can be more welcoming for all? Let us know by sending an email to Community@losgatosca.gov.
Conversely, if you experience, witness, or need to report any inappropriate behavior by Town or Police Department staff please email Community@losgatosca.gov. The Town will conduct an investigation and take appropriate steps to address any improper behavior.