Chico police too secretive George Gold tells ChicoSol secrecy "boggles the mind"

Hate Crime in Chico: In late June 2020 there was another hate crime in Chico. Two African American men were assaulted at a party while the attackers screamed racial and sexual insults. Both men suffered serious injuries requiring hospitalization. In early July I was invited by the victims to observe and support the men during their interview by Chico police detectives.

It must be noted that both of the detectives who interviewed these gay men were sensitive and compassionate to the issues of the assault. During the interview, I noticed that one of the detectives had a copy of the preliminary police report in her leather portfolio. Near the conclusion of the two hour interview, and following the survivors signing a form allowing the police to obtain their medical records for the day of the assault (making the detectives’ life easier), and when I asked the detectives for a copy of the police report for the survivors, they refused. Are you with me here? All they had to do was step outside our conference room, go to a copy machine and make a copy. As of this date, we still do not have a copy.

Transparency: Last year I used the California version of the federal freedom of information act (California Public Records Act; CPRA) to request a police report of an incident of police use of force in Bidwell Park. The request was denied by the Chico city attorney in a convoluted three-page letter.

Accountability: Our Chico police department’s idea — that they have the power to hide whatever they want to hide — is not justice. Justice is not served by secrecy, justice is not something that should be controlled by our police. In our world today, our police have yet to understand they are not some sort of autonomous functionary where they can make up the rules as they go along; they must abide by the law.

Budget: While the police garner 50% of City of Chico’s entire budget for their salaries and pensions, perhaps our cops should appreciate the fact that they owe the citizens of Chico some respect. Aside from these simple practical issues of police reports, being secretive only lays the groundwork for hiding important data about police misconduct. This must change.

George Gold