The founders of Voices of Monterey Bay strongly believe in government accountability and fiscal responsibility by all branches, be it law enforcement or City Hall. They believe government should be responsive to the governed, and if that means aligning budget practices with what the governed is demanding, then the government needs to be responsive to those demands.
That’s what movements to realign budget priorities to give more money to social services, vis a vis the police departments, have demanded. Voices of Monterey Bay has recommended a program that would use a small percentage of police budgets throughout the county to establish a county-wide crisis response team that would respond to situations that involve mentally ill or drug addicted individuals and other incidents that call for social solutions rather than police responses. That’s why Voices of Monterey Bay has featured many articles critical of Monterey County Sheriff Steve Bernal and his unethical, self-serving spending practices.
These calls for reform should never be interpreted as “anti-police” from Voices or from other community leaders. Police departments have a function in our society — one that, disgracefully, was started to patrol plantations and prevent slaves from running away and which has morphed into what it is today, an institution that’s called to protect the citizenry. Voices of Monterey Bay believes the function of law enforcement should continue to evolve, that the role of police officers should be examined from time to time, and this is what Voices of Monterey Bay is doing: encouraging dialogue that will lead to change.
Calls for police reform should never be confused with an anti-police sentiment. Like every sensitive person in Monterey County, the staff of Voices of Monterey Bay grieves the shooting death of Salinas Police Officer Jorge David Alvarado Jr., who was gunned down late Friday as he attempted to conduct a traffic stop in Salinas. Officer Alvarado had been in the Salinas police force since 2020, when he transferred from the Colma Police Department. Although Salinas has seen its share of violent deaths in the last 40 years, no officers had been killed in the line of duty for nearly 80 years.
Officer Alvarado was an Army veteran, a son, and was engaged to be married. Like any other human being, he deserved to come home at the end of his work day, and that right was unjustly snatched from him, shattering his family in the process. It’s a loss that many in Salinas know well and that no one should ever become inured to. Every decent person in our community should mourn Officer Alvarado’s death and deplore a society that allows the unjust killing of another human being through random callousness and sheer gun power. We can do much better than this.
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