Community members drive the conversations on Roseville Police Department’s Multicultural Advisory Committee.
Police leaders intentionally take a backseat, explains Roseville Police Chief Erika Scheider.
Community members speak frankly about their perception of police officers and law enforcement policies. They ask questions. They share their personal experiences with officers - both good and bad – and, at times, challenge the police perspective.
“The Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) is really there for us in law enforcement to listen and learn. We are not there to talk at people. We listen to their concerns and see how we can do better,” Scheider said. “It’s about flipping that whole narrative and doing it differently than we’d done in the past.”
Formed in 2020, the MAC is now helping to shape Roseville Police hiring practices, policies, and procedures. It’s also further bolstered the department’s relationship with the community it serves.
The committee meets between 8 to 12 times per year and includes about a dozen community members from a variety of backgrounds, said Roseville Police Community Relations Specialist Tom Pitzl, who serves as the MAC staff liaison.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity for the City of Roseville to lead by example and show the world what effective community-based policing looks like,” said MAC member Terry Newby. “There are a lot of places that don’t have this and, frankly, don’t want it. For Roseville, this partnership with the police is so important.”
MAC members have been involved with the officer candidate interview process.
“We make sure that police candidates understand the complexities and nuances of working in a community like ours, which is racially and ethnically diverse,” Newby said.
MAC visited Roseville Area High School and spoke with students about their perceptions of police. MAC feedback was also instrumental in the creation of Roseville Police’s Letters Instead program, which launched in January 2023.
Now, when Roseville officers observe minor equipment violations including expired tabs or burnt-out headlights or taillights, Roseville police are sending letters instead of initiating a traffic stop. MAC members provide insights to police leaders as they crafted the Letters Instead policy.
“The data indicates those stops disproportionately affect people of color and low-income people. The data also shows when you pull people over for those sorts of things, you almost never get evidence of an existing crime or a larger crime,” Terry said. “Roseville has really led the way."
Roseville has sent more than 1,800 letters to motorists notifying them of minor equipment violations, eliminating 1,800 non-public safety traffic stops. The letters include information about how to obtain a free voucher to fix a burnt-out headlight, turn signal, or brake light through a non-profit partnership with Microgrants and their Lights On program.
“This is a wonderful, wonderful thing and I am so happy we are doing it. It feels good,” said MAC member Etienne Djevi.
MAC members made clear in their feedback to police that economic strains, not defiance of the law, is often why people are driving with minor equipment violations.
“It’s not a crime to be poor,” Djevi said. “If people don’t have enough money to fix their broken taillight and we give them a ticket, we’re contributing to the poverty that started this cycle in the first place.”
Deputy Chief Joe Adams said it’s wonderful to have that honest community feedback. MAC members are encouraged to share their committee discussions with neighbors, friends, and colleagues and report back to amplify the community’s voice.
“We in law enforcement are often looking at things from a 10,000 feet view. MAC members can give us that real-world tangible human perspective,” Adams said.
Adams said spirited, thoughtful discourse is always welcome.
“We are not looking for everyone to come in and agree with us, then tell us we are doing a great job,” he said. “We are looking for people to ask some tough questions and say, “wait a minute, have you thought of this perspective?’”
MAC is currently accepting applications for new members. Click here to learn more.