A look into the Los Altos Police Task Force


Barrett Wong

The Los Altos Police Task Force is charged with finding a solution to the presence of SROs at LAHS.

In September, the Los Altos City Council put together a police task force to provide recommendations regarding the presence of school resource officers (SROs) at Los Altos High School and improve the process by which citizens can file complaints about the police department. While many view this as a step in the right direction, others have their reservations about the effectiveness of the task force. 

The Talon spoke to Los Altos City Council members, concerned citizens and members of the task force about their perspectives on the necessity and mission of the task force.

While the task force has already begun its meetings, members of the Los Altos community are still concerned about its usefulness and the motives behind it. 

Some are especially worried about the purpose of the task force, fearing it won’t have the ability to bring about real change and citing the fact that its job is to provide recommendations to the City Council that can ultimately be denied. 

“Los Altos has shown us time and time again that they don’t give a sh*t,” Justice Vanguard founder Kenan Moos said. “They keep on going on about how the issue of SROs doesn’t exist after people have repeatedly shown them that SROs are a big problem on campus. I’m not sure about how effective the task force will be, but I’m hoping for the best.”

The scope of the task force is limited. It can only work within Los Altos, specifically at LAHS, and it is the Mountain View–Los Altos District’s choice for whether these recommendations would also apply to Mountain View High School. The role of the task force is to use past data and expert advice to make a recommendation that the District can choose to adhere to. 

Council Member Neysa Fligor says that the City Council aims for the task force to achieve tangible outcomes and that they’re hoping it will produce concrete, helpful results. 

“There is always the opinion that the task force may not do anything,” Fligor said. “But we didn’t do this just to say we made a task force. We want a working task force to produce results and bring them to the Council.

The task force will have no say in the actual review or investigative process done by the Los Altos Police Department, instead of focusing on how the complaints are received, making the process easier for the public. 

While doubting the effectiveness of the task force, others are apprehensive about its intentions; because the issue of police brutality extends beyond Los Altos, they feel as if a local task force won’t result in change, which makes many feel as if the gesture is “performative.” 

“How is our Los Altos police task force going to change nationwide issues with the system, especially when it’s led by the City Council, which is the same organization that’s at the root of the problem?” Los Altos Students and Educators (LASAE) member Sreoshi Sarkar, Los Altos ’19, said. 

Despite the disputes regarding the task force, there is a general positive opinion regarding the diversity of the task force in both gender and race, with six females and three males, six out of the nine members being people of color.

“The diversity is terrific — it’s a change long due,” LASAE member Kiyoshi Taylor, Los Altos ’19, said. “We need more women and people of color in positions of power, so the fact that the task force is so diverse gives me some hope for its future endeavors. To all the women and people of color on the task force, speak your truth, and don’t back down without a fight.”

One task force member, Renee Rashid, spoke on her reasons for joining the task as a woman and mother.

“I actually grew up in Minneapolis,” Rashid said. “So when George Floyd was murdered, that hit really close, and I just felt pretty powerless to actually do something about it. But I felt this was a great opportunity to find how I could help my own community, and make sure that something close to that never happens here. To make sure that everyone feels safe and welcomed and not just the majority.”

While Rashid personally wasn’t involved with the original petition against SROs, she said that she was present in the many marches throughout Santa Clara County and read about the prevalent issues in today’s society.

Rashid commented that she would have liked to see a high school student on the task force. 

“As someone affected by the SRO program itself, they definitely could have helped and added a new perspective,” Rashid said. “However, we do have citizens who are interested and willing to learn about these programs, and willing to look at options and take it seriously, to make sure that it meets the needs of all students and residents of Los Altos.”