from the GOOD dept
An immense amount of reform has hit cops in California over the last few years.
The state very recently made it possible for public records requesters to obtain records about police misconduct -- something that had been statutorily-shielded for decades. That, of course, made local law enforcement agencies unhappy. They sued. They let the state Attorney General argue against the interests of California residents. They fucked around and found out. And yet, they still pretended they could shred their way through this.
There's more reform on the horizon. If cops didn't like having their misconduct records being made available to the public, they're really not going to like what's coming next. The general public could have access to even more records -- ones that may confirm assumptions about cops and their motivations.
In the two years since a state transparency law went into effect, San Francisco police have released previously secret disciplinary records from dozens of police shootings and a few incidents of police misconduct.
Now the same state lawmaker behind Senate Bill 1421 is pushing new legislation that would expand the scope of disclosable records beyond the current parameters, which only include shootings and proven allegations of dishonesty or sexual assault.
The new legislation, Senate Bill 16 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would also require police to disclose cases involving sustained findings of bias or discrimination and unlawful searches or arrests.
All this bill needs is the governor's signature. That law enforcement failed to have this killed before it could make its way to the governor's desk perhaps indicates their unions and lobbyists are no longer as powerful as they once were. And police officers have no one to blame but themselves for the lack of sympathy displayed by politicians and the public they were supposed to be serving for all these years.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE.
Let's sit back and enjoy the vicarious anguish of government employees who've gotten away with so much for so long. More trouble is on the way for the supposedly small group of "bad apples." (Cop shops love their bad apples, btw.)
Senate Bill 2, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), would remove some immunity provisions for law enforcement and peace officers, as well as public entities employing them who are being sued because of something they did.
Under the bill, if former officers are convicted of a felony, they can never return to any kind of peace officer position. Although, those who are later found to be innocent, or if their conviction is reversed or expunged, can. Likewise, applicants to law enforcement positions would be disqualified immediately if they are found to have committed crimes against public justice, such as bribery, falsification of records, and perjury, or if they had previously had peace officer certification revoked.
This seems so obvious it shouldn't be controversial. Bad cops shouldn't be allowed to become sign-able free agents if they've violated the law. They're in the law enforcement business. If they can't follow the law, they shouldn't be able to call themselves law enforcement officers.
Of course, there's incoherent opposition.
Opposing lawmakers, as well as many law enforcement organizations, have charged that the bill leaves police officers at the risk of being denounced due to revenge against being the arresting officer, as well as bias concerns on the decertification board due to it being mostly members of the public.
“It is grossly unfair,” said Republican Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta) on Friday. “None of the other 46 states [with decertification boards] have a similar composition. None of them are this lopsided.”
I don't even know what "due to revenge against being the arresting officer" is supposed to mean. And the Assemblyman's comments do nothing to clarify the complaints. All it does is amplify the outrage officers are apparently feeling in response to being forced to be both accountable and transparent while collecting paychecks written by the public.
If you can't handle the heat, give up your pensions and GTFO of the kitchen. It's time cops were given as much scrutiny as retail workers. If they can't handle that, they've got plenty of options in the private sector.
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Filed Under: accountability, california, police, transparency