Race & Equity

The City of Palo Alto adopted the Race & Equity mission statement on November 16, 2020 as part of its discussion of the City’s ongoing Race and Equity efforts. On that same evening, the City Council voted on 16 other actions to advance equity work on a range of topics from use of police data to a community summit on gender equity issues. Notably, the City Council decided to continue this work through the Policy and Services Committee on an ongoing basis. To share input or feedback on this process, connect with us on social media or email us at RaceandEquity@cityofpaloalto.org.

Equity Mission Statement: The City of Palo Alto is committed to creating a respectful, fair, and professional workplace and city. We will identify prejudices, eliminate inequities, welcome many perspectives, and use a collaborative approach to create an environment that works for everyone. The City's commitment to achieve equity in Palo Alto is the shared responsibility of our residents, organizations, governments, and other institutions.

News & Updates

The following community updates provide a summary of Race and Equity work underway and highlight ways you can provide input, learn more, and stay up-to-date on progress made. 

Progress Highlights

In 2021, following many discussions through ad hoc committees and Policy and Services discussions, the City Council expanded the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) scope and included several components that were previously reported in summary form in a supplemental cover memo. As of June 2021, the IPA’s scope includes the following for future IPA review and reports:
  • Incidents where an officer uses a TASER, baton, chemical agent, less-lethal projectile, canine, firearm, or any other force, resulting in an injury requiring treatment beyond minor medical care in the field;
  • The Police Department’s handling of Supervisory Inquiry Reports (formerly called Informal Inquiry Reports) (complaints that are sufficiently investigated and resolved through expedited review); and,
  • Review of City investigations of uniformed officers arising from employee complaints of discrimination, harassment or retaliation by a uniformed officer.

Additional actions taken in 2021 include the development of the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT). This program teams up a police officer with a licensed mental health clinician to provide rapid intervention to a person in mental health crisis. PERT is an important element in furthering the City’s Race and Equity priorities by reinforcing Palo Alto’s commitment to supplementing law enforcement response options.

In 2022, Council approved a budget request to authorize a new staff position of an Equity and Inclusion Official, discussed ways to reduce hate crimes and hate speech, approved recommendations from the 2021 Women and Girls Summit, and took action to celebrate several dates of historic significance including Juneteenth, Cesar Chavez Day, and Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Additionally, the City debuted its new police records management system designed to comply with the Racial Identity Profiling Act and continued collaboration with the Santa Clara County Psychiatric Emergency Response Team. 

The City engages the Community in many dialogues on this topic including: 100 Community Conversations About Race and Lived Experience in Palo Alto, sponsored and initiated by the Human Relations CommissionPalo Alto Summit on Women and GirlsBook to Action: How to be an Anti-Racist21-Day Equity Habit Building Challenge (in partnership with PAUSD), and 7-Day Equity Book List for Children.