Oxnard Community Leader welcomes Chief Scott Whitney
By Armando Vazquez
Effective September 16, 2016, that Scott Whitney will be the new Police Chief of Oxnard. This is great news for the community of Oxnard. For close to two decades we at the Café on A have worked with Officer Whitney, and we have come to know from our long professional association that he is a honest, hardworking, empathetic, intelligent, street-trained/street-smart, straight talker. He is inclusive and the consummate professional, a local caring cop who knows and loves Oxnard. Scott Whitney is one of those rare individuals who pursued his profession with passion, empathy and intelligence and never let his ego taint his judgement. Scott never lost his way as a cop, even when all hell was breaking loose in the OPD.
Whenever Officer Whitney dealt with us at the Café on A on often sensitive, heated and contentious safety, enforcement and delinquency issues with youth and their families we found him to be smart, thoughtful, caring; a proactive law enforcement officer and problem solver. Over the years we have worked on many social justice issues and Officer Whitney has always made it a personal mission to listen, stay professionally objective and dedicated to work with us to craft an equitable resolutions for our community.
The Café on A. through its KEYS Leadership Academy, has worked with thousands of disenfranchised youth and their families for over two decades. In this period we have been witnesses to the often heavy handed tactics deployed by the OPD in its application of its often ill-advised tough on crime tactics and programs promulgated and sanctioned by the previous four (4) OPD Chiefs. On many of these questionable community law enforcement policies , The Café on A opposed and fought the OPD assertively, demanding more accountability, transparency and fairness, and equitable justice. The Café on A and our community friends fought against the Civil Gang Injunctions, the sobriety checkpoints, introduction of cops in both elementary and high schools of Oxnard, the OPD working with ICE, youth and minority profiling, quasi-operation and management of PALS and other “social services” programs that the previous OPD Chiefs championed for apparent self-serving purposes.
We at the Café on A challenge the OPD to work on overhauling its so called community- policing programs, to be good at being professional cops and not questionable social workers. We have demanded that the OPD improve its mandate to stop crime and serve all of Oxnard community. We challenged the OPD to be true community servants and to do real community policing and not just show case “community policing” as a public relations ploy of cover ups. The past four Oxnard Police Chiefs, and their unsuccessful policies are gone, but crime and fear in Oxnard is still here and ticking back up. Chief Whitney has a chance to create a new vision for the OPD; a professional police department that serves and works with the community and helps create a compassionate progressive environment where we are working together.
I have worked in the trenches of disenfranchised Los Angeles and Ventura County communities for over 50 years, attempting to work with cops and to help them serve our disenfranchised communities. It has been a difficult task because the rank and file cops follow the “blue code” of conduct (as the Police Chiefs work on bolstering their political capital and careers with statistical law enforcement numbers, i.e., arrest, tickets, infractions, confiscations of property rule the day). In the “blue code” of policing true community policing is often hypocritical sloganeering.
We are sure that Chief Scott Whitney is a hard working career professional and is the best man to lead the OPD. Nonetheless, Chief Whitney has a daunting job before him; namely to bring the OPD into the 21st century of community policing. Some Oxnard residents have suffered tremendous injustices at the hands of the OPD in recent years. Fear of crime, both real and imagined, has driven previous OPD Chiefs to militarize some parts of Oxnard. Chief Whitney has publicly acknowledged in the past that the OPD has a tough time when it comes to dealing with Oxnard’s youth; an honest yet glaring admission that the OPD hasn’t been able to work effectively with the city’s youth delinquency, a significantly diverse,nd growing population in Oxnard. Chief Whitney knows better than anyone that the cops cannot bridge the chasm between youth and the OPD alone. Chief Whitney has partnered with the Café on A and other community- based organizations that work with youth delinquency for close to two decades; he has always been a man of his word and a good cop, that understands that compassion often works better than robotic force. Many times, in the past, we have turned to Scott for help in a time of need, and he has always done his personal and professionally diligent best to assist.
Congratulations, Scott! We know that you are equal to the tough tasks ahead of you, and we at the Café on A are ready, willing and able to work with you hand in hand to bring compassionate, intelligent restorative justice to youth, their families and the entire wonderfully diverse city of Oxnard. Let us know how we can help.
Armando Vazquez, M.Ed. is Executive Director of Acuna Art Gallery/Café on A, Executive Director for The KEYS Leadership Academy and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health/coalition