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VPOA Slams "Declaration of Emergency"

Vallejo Police Officers’ Association slams proposed “declaration of emergency” by the City of Vallejo, Calling it an Illegal Power Grab, “Dangerous to Citizens, Safety, and Police”

VPOA to File Legal Actions, Seek Injunctions to Enforce Statutory and Administrative Rights

Authoritarian Power Grab by City, Should Concern Everyone - City Doesn’t Need to Declare Emergency, it Just Needs to Hire More Cops as it has Promised

Vallejo, CA.—The Vallejo Police Officers’ Association today slammed a proposed “declaration of emergency” by the City of Vallejo and its Chief of Police calling it “illegal and dangerous to citizens, public safety, police and the rule of law.”

The City has placed a “declaration of emergency” on the City Council agenda for Tuesday, October 6, that seeks to give unprecedented powers to the City Manager to circumvent state and local laws and regulations. The City claims the declaration is necessary to deal with the current crime wave, which necessarily concedes that the City’s neglect and mismanagement has resulted in conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of all residents.

“The City does not need to declare an emergency to hire more police officers to protect citizens and businesses. It just needs to hire more cops, which it has been unable to do for years because it refuses to provide competitive wages and benefits to attract candidates - either entry level or laterals,” said members of the VPOA.

While the lack of effective City leadership is not in doubt, the VPOA said it will challenge its declaration in court and pursue all legal and administrative remedies. The proposed declaration “would allow it to bypass all civil service rules and other regulations to give the City Manager authoritarian powers until the City itself declares that the so-called emergency is over,” members added.

“This so-called declaration of emergency should cause everyone grave concern. The City effectively seeks to set aside due process, Civil Service Rules, and established law to create a dictatorship in response to its own administrative failures. This is a dangerous, illegal power grab concocted by the City’s administration that violates laws, public safety and everyone’s rights as citizens and employees of the City of Vallejo,” the VPOA warned.

They pointed out that City Manager Greg Nyhoff has been with the Vallejo for three years and Police Chief Shawny Williams has been onboard for a year. “They are trying to pass this ‘emergency’ as being necessary due to past administrations’ decisions. The reality is that Nyhoff and Williams have been, and are at, the helm, and should be held accountable. Accountability does not mean that we cast aside the checks and balances that are required of democracy,” members said.

The VPOA says the City’s and Chief’s admitted mismanagement, neglect, and incompetence for the past decade are to blame for the City’s current condition. The City has failed to prioritize the police department. Instead of taking funds away from budgeted police officer positions to hire a $500,000 a year Assistant Police Chief to sit behind a desk, the City should be focusing their efforts on hiring highly qualified officers and developing actual strategies for a sustainable police force.

The VPOA says the so-called state of emergency “opens the door to cronyism and is an excuse to hire more unaccountable administrative bureaucrats that will do nothing to help citizens impacted by crime.” The declaration itself says that the City wants to hire more administrators, even noting that there “is a vacant Assistant Chief position” which the City created in July without increasing the Police Department’s budget.

The VPOA said the Vallejo’s leadership is citing its own failure to implement police reforms as a ruse to justify its unprecedented action. After repeated attempts to meet with Assistant Chief Joe Allio regarding the OIR Group’s recommended reforms, the VPOA sent the City a letter on September 16, 2020 formally encouraging City leaders to work with the union to make progress on the recommendations.

Despite the VPOA’s public support of the OIR Group’s recommendations, the City did not reach out to schedule a meeting until October 1, 2020, only hours before giving notice of this proposed declaration of emergency.

“The reason Vallejo is awash in crime is that the City has starved the department of necessary funds to hire patrol officers to protect citizens,” said members of the VPOA.

“The City can’t declare an emergency when they are the one that caused the emergency. The City’s incompetent leadership has mismanaged Vallejo for the past decade. Now their solution is to declare an emergency and give unprecedented powers and authority to themselves, the people that created the situation,” members of the VPOA said.

The VPOA has offered to work with the City and Chief to implement recommendations from two independent studies of the Vallejo Police Department. One study found the VPD was unbiased and non-discriminatory in its use of force and the other study provided 45 recommendations for changes and reform. The VPOA support both studies and their reform initiatives.

“The OIR Group recommendations are important steps for the future of the Vallejo Police Department, and the VPOA maintains its commitment to work with the City toward implementing those recommendations. Nothing in the OIR Group’s report suggests or the principles in 21st Century Policing requires the City to circumvent state and local laws and regulations,” they added.