Telephone Town Hall Addresses Race, Police, Public Trust

Taking a cue from PBS broadcast "America After Ferguson," county leaders are inviting the public to dial into a telephone town hall Sunday to talk about race, law enforcement and community trust.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Sheriff Laurie Smith are organizing the event, which runs from 11am to noon Sunday, and is open to anyone who wants to join the conversation.

“We can’t afford to just accept these tragedies as unavoidable or inevitable,”Simitian said. “I want to hear what the community thinks will make a difference—to improve relationships, keep folks safe, and avoid a similar tragedy here. The questions are simple. I suspect the answers are not.”

Late last year, after a series of high-profile cases of police shooting unarmed black men, Simitian proposed wearable cameras for county law enforcement. Still, he acknowledged, there's "no easy answer, no quick fix" to healing the relationships between police and the communities they're sworn to protect.

“That's why I wanted to have this discussion,” Simitian said. “I want to make sure that after Ferguson fades from the headlines, our county is taking constructive steps to get it right.”

Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, who hosts the "CEO Show" on KLIV radio, will moderate the discussion much like a radio show.

Other panelists include retired judge and San Jose Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell, Deputy District Attorney Johnny Gogo and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt.

"Effective law enforcement requires those of us in uniform to earn and keep the trust of the people we serve," Sheriff Smith said. "This is a conversation that every community around the country should be having, and I hope people take advantage of this event and join in."

To participate in the telephone town hall, call 855.866.6313.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. > Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Sheriff Laurie Smith are organizing the event, which runs from 11am to noon Sunday, and is open to anyone who wants to join the conversation.

    Well, at 11 AM on Sunday morning, when there are no football games on, I guess there;s not much else for progressives to do. For sure, they DON’T go to church.

    What does anyone think is going to happen at this “townhall”?

    How about people calling in and saying:

    “i’m against racism”
    “I’m against police shooting unarmed black men”
    “We all need to for OTHER people to recognize THEIR racism”.
    “I think education is the way to end racism”.
    “I think we need more funding for blah, blah, blah”
    “I think we need to raise public awareness about blah, blah, blah”
    “I think Supervisor Simitian is doing a wonderful job”
    “I think Sheriff Smith is doing a wonderful job.”

    Question: At 9 AM on Monday morning, will ANYTHING be different?

  2. Law enforcement in this county does have the trust of the vast majority of those they serve. There is also the small, but very vocal, part of the community that do not like the police and never will. No amount of reform or public forums are going to change this fact. There is nothing that will sway those who simply do not like the police from hanging on to their opinions. The Michael Brown case is the perfect example. When the evidence showed that the shooting was justified and did not happen as originally described, it didn’t change a thing. Neither will this forum,

  3. Although allowing a forum like this for the public to speak is always a positive thing I must admit that allocating 1 hour for a single event is not realistic. Who is the independent auditor for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s are failing miserably.

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