By the time Williams was sworn in in November, Vallejo agents had shot 18 people in less than a decade. according to KTVU
. Between 2005 and 2017, the Bay Area community of 122,000 people had the third highest number of police killings per capita in the state, a NBC Bay Area
“Vallejo is like a distillation of the problems that many places, I think, are facing,” said Geoffrey King, the founder of the nonprofit news site. Open Vallejo
, W. Kamau Bell told Sunday “United Shades of America
“episode”, “Policing the Police.”
“There was a 2016 research survey by Pew
from something like 7,800 law enforcement officers across the country, “King continued.” They found that 73% of law enforcement officers have never fired their weapon. Forty percent of Vallejo police had been involved in at least one shooting [according to Open Vallejo research], and about a third of that had happened in two or more. “
So does the now-fired Vallejo officer Ryan McMahon, who was involved in two fatal shootings, a CNN affiliate company. KGO
reports. In 2018
McMahon shot 33-year-old Ronell Foster during a showdown a missing headlight
on Foster’s bike. The following February, McMahon was one of six officers to open fire Willie McCoy
, the 20-year-old who appeared to fall asleep during a fast-food drive-through. The officers, who had arrived to conduct a welfare check, said they thought McCoy was grabbing a gun in his lap.
The series of deadly shootings by Vallejo officers, including the murder of 21-year-old Angel Ramos in 2017, sparked protests as the deceased’s families demanded answers and accountability. Times-Herald
van Vallejo reported.
Williams, the city’s first black police chief, appeared to recognize this history when sworn in as he pledged to restore trust with a skeptical community, said KGO
. “Today,” said Williams, “we’re heading in a new direction.”
Seven months later, however, it was clear how challenging that new direction would be.
On June 2, amid nationwide protests in response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police, the 22-year-old was Sean Monterrosa
was shot and killed by a Vallejo officer in a parking lot in Walgreens. Police, investigating reports of looting, said a hammer in Monterrosa’s pocket was mistaken for a gun.
In July, the troubling news continued: a report from Open Vallejo claimed that some Vallejo officers
curved the points of their police badges to mark fatal shootings on the job.
Williams called for an investigation
, and declared a public safety emergency in October to speed up the process of implementing reforms, CNN affiliate said KPIX
Because the constant call for accountability from the police is spreading all the way to the White House
Bell sat down for a virtual interview with Williams to learn more about how he is handling change in his department.
“There are now tangible changes that we are making,” said Williams. “I wanted a stronger body-worn camera policy, from ‘should’ be activated to ‘should’ be activated at each contact. We let that change happen. … We work on our standards of conduct and our ethics policy; I believe that cultural change starts with that.
“It’s important to me that we approach these community issues with empathy and compassion,” he continued. “Change takes time. I can’t change the past, but I can influence the future – and that’s what we’re focused on.”
“United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET / PT.
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