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Racial and Social Equity in San Rafael

Be a part of the conversation

The City Council and staff are committed to finding solutions to address systemic racial injustice that pervade our society and community. We recognize that San Rafael is not immune to the social and economic challenges that disproportionally impact not only our black community, but all people of color.

Real movement towards addressing racial injustice and prejudice will require action from our City Council and conversations with our community. Change happens through our local, democratically elected representatives at all levels of government, public and transparent decision-making, and the participation of voices in our community.

Every police department has a huge role to play in racial justice. However, racial justice and systemic racism will not be solved solely with changes to police departments across the United States. Systemic (or Institutional) racism impacts nearly every facet of life and involves housing, criminal justice, health care, employment, education, and many other issues. The City is committed to these community conversations as we work together with other levels of government (County, State, Federal), schools, businesses, medical providers, non-profits, and others on these issues.

Learn more about the San Rafael Police Department's commitment to the community with regards to use of force.

What Actions are We Taking?

One immediate action is the Mayor and City Council signed President Barack Obama's Mayor Pledgeand reviewed San Rafael's policing policies as they relate to the8 Can't Waitguidelines. 

The Mayor developed a task force to conduct this review:

  • Alyssa Martinez, Community Member
  • Bishlam Bullock, Community Member
  • Carly Bainbridge, Community Member
  • Cristine Alilovich, Assistant City Manager
  • Damien Oyobio, Community Member
  • Darin White, Fire Chief
  • Dave Spiller, Chief of Police
  • Ember A. Vosmek-Park, Community Member
  • Iman Kayani, Management Analyst
  • Kate Colin, Mayor
  • Jim Schutz, City Manager
  • Justin Read, Community Member
  • Lorenzo Jones, Community Member (Facilitator)
  • Lucia Martel-Dow, Community Member
  • Renee Vargas, Community Member
  • Rob Epstein, City Attorney
  • Ruth Etcheverria, Community Member

The task force met twice virtually to discuss how key elements of the #8cantwait campaigncan be incorporated into the current police policy manual.  Subsequently, the Chief of Police incorporated many changes and on August 17, 2020, brought the proposed changes to City Council. The City Council unanimously accepted these changes. 

One significant addition was that Police Chief Diana Bishop wrote her first Chief’s Preface. This preface is an introduction by the Chief of Police about her philosophy of policing and vision for the San Rafael Police Department. Chief Bishop’s preface highlighted the disproportionate use-of-force against people of color, the underlying inequities in policing, and the role of leaders to drive change.

Next Steps

Currently, we are examining at service delivery around public safety as we review the City's annual goals and objectives.  What we do next needs to be shaped and informed by community input. We will be putting together a broader process for community participation. 

Provide feedback and suggestions

We invite the community to be a part of the conversation to guarantee the public safety and economic opportunity of all San Rafael residents, regardless of color, and work to eliminate the barriers facing people of color in our community.

Please use the form at the bottom of this page to share your thoughts, feelings, and suggestions on how the City of San Rafael and the San Rafael Police Department should take action to face the challenge of injustice in our society.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Written feedback and suggestions can be made using Racial Justice Comment Form. All submissions will be shared with the San Rafael City Council and leadership team.  

We encourage our community members to get involved by participating in City Council meetings and providing input directly to our City Council and leadership team. 

Another great way to address inequities is to get involved in the decision making process by participating on one of the City’s Boards and Commissions. 

Want to talk to someone about City Council meetings or Boards and Commissions, no problem, contact our City Clerk, Lindsay Lara, she is happy to answer any questions you may have!

The City of San Rafael, like many cities across the country, use Lexipol for their polices.  Lexipol is a private company based in California that provides policy manuals, training bulletins, and consulting services to law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and other public safety departments. In 2019, 3500 agencies in 35 U.S. states used Lexipol manuals or subscribed to their services. 

Lexipol ensures that all policies are aligned with State and Federal law, and is continuously updated as laws change. All Lexipol policies are vetted through their legal division and cities can edit policies to suit the needs of their communities. San Rafael’s Police Department policies have been customized throughout the policy manual.

The San Rafael Police Department has regularly conducted de-escalation training for many years.  The department has been training all sworn officers as CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) officers since the mid 1990’s.  De-escalation continues to be a pillar of our internal training program and de-escalation techniques are used daily by our police officers as it is their default approach to police interactions with members of the community. 

The goals of the community #8Can’tWait task force were to review the San Rafael Police Department’s current use-of-force policy and discuss with the Task Force how key elements of the #8Can’tWait campaign can be implemented into SRPD’s operational protocols and use of force policy.

The Chief of Police received feedback  from the community Task Force and the San Rafael Police Association and incorporated many changes to the use-of-force policy. On August 17, 2020, the proposed changes were brought to City Council in which they were unanimously accepted.


Many of the #8Can’tWait policy suggestions are already in place in the San Rafael Police Department Policy Manual.  Following City Council approval of the new use of force policy, all law enforcement officers will be thoroughly trained on what these policy changes mean in their day to day police work.  The changes will be discussed in daily shift briefings, as well as schedule custom trainings. 

The San Rafael Police Department takes the duty to intercede seriously.  Policy 300.2.1 states that an officer shall intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. The officer also has the duty to promptly report these observations to a supervisor.   

Yes, the SRPD has plain clothed officers.  We have eight Detectives including a Detective Sergeant.  These detectives conduct follow-up investigations on crimes that were initially reported to the patrol division. 

The San Rafael Social Justice Community Art Group formed in October 2020 and is comprised of arts and community advocates who live and/or work in the City of San Rafael. The group wanted to find a way to support the social justice messaging which was  embedded in the chalk art mural created over the Summer of 2020 honoring Breonna Taylor’s life at the intersection of Las Gallinas and Freitas Parkway. The mural was removed as the City’s policy is to keep public property clear of markings of any kind. The City  and members of the community group have been working together toward the common goal of creating a publicly sanctioned art piece in Terra Linda, in the same vicinity and theme as the original mural.

The community groups’ goals are to:

  • Co-create, along with the City of San Rafael, a user-friendly, expeditious pilot process for approving public art projects on City owned property. This project will serve as a pilot, which will inform a future Public Arts program for the City of San Rafael.
  • Shepherd a social justice public art proposal through this pilot process and see the project through its installation.

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