Superintendent/President Erika Endrijonas signed an executive order on Monday that immediately prohibits the use of carotid restraints, or chokeholds, by PCC Campus Police.
The order also creates a 13-member Campus Police Policy Task Force with the charge of completing a top-to-bottom review of the police force’s policy manual and training handbook. PCC Police Chief Stephen Matchan will report on the progress of the review by September, according to the order.
The directives follow a resolution passed by PCC’s Board of Trustees last week “denouncing the killing of unarmed Black/African American citizens” that called on the college to strengthen its efforts to dismantle structural racism. The resolution specifically calls for “a thorough review” and recasting of PCC’s governing documents to “identify and remove” elements that correlate to racially inequitable outcomes.
“This order is a long time in coming, and I’m proud to be able to issue it today,” said Dr. Endrijonas. “Even though we have no evidence that our officers have used a chokehold in their duties in the last 15 years, the approval of the use of this force runs counter to PCC’s efforts to be a place of peaceful educational inquiry and respect for others. Like so much else in our society, it needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.
“This action is just the first we’re prepared to take to live up to our ideals as a college,” she continued. “The killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black/African American citizens has led to a much-needed reckoning in every sphere of society, including higher education. We are not going to shirk our duty to understand the gravity of our errors and make the necessary changes to deliver for our students and our community.”
Dr. Endrijonas has made student equity a focus of her work since coming to PCC in January 2019. In August of that year, in her first major address to the faculty and staff of the college, she laid down a challenge to have PCC be the first community college in California to entirely eliminate gaps in educational outcome among populations of different races.
Earlier this month, the Aspen Institute’s Community College Excellence Program recognized PCC as one of the top ten two-year institutions in the United States for the third time in a row. The prestigious think tank highlighted PCC’s continuing efforts at equity, diversity, and positive outcomes for its nearly 30,000 students.
“Everyone in the PCC Campus Police Department – from myself on down – understands the importance of maintaining goodwill with our community,” said PCC Police Chief Steven Matchan. “Our work begins the minute we put on our uniform, long before any particular encounter with an individual begins. This change to our policy manual, and the review process in front of us, will remove barriers to us doing our work effectively, deepen our ties to those we serve, and enable us to complete our mission with Vigilance, Honor, and Valor.”
The Board of Trustees’ resolution builds on similar statements issued by representative bodies of the college’s faculty, staff, and students; the PCC Foundation; and employee affinity groups. A full list of statements of solidarity can be found on the college’s website.