California Bills offer reasonable reforms on police use of force

This is a companion piece to my series on police brutality [here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here]. Again, not all members of law enforcement are thugs, but there is a growing segment of them that have a sort of mixture of a messiah complex, and a natural psychological empowerment of a real-life Stanford Prison Experiment on the actual streets where you and I live.

Just in the past few days there was a shooting, and killing of a person, by South Lake Tahoe police officer. According to reports so far, he wasn’t armed (something that seems to me to be important), and was trying to escape through a window. This guy was allegedly a small time drug dealer. In the grand scheme of things, does that mean he has to die?

I think these two bills in the first article, address some of the larger issues. Although both are stalled in committee, [AB 619] and [AB 86] hopefully in the next legislative session they both get passed. Below is a summary from the conservative OC Register. and below that is a link to the progressive Davis Vanguard, with quotes from former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso who has some questions about whether some D.A.s can remain neutral in their investigations, specifically in the killing of Luis Gutierrez

Well-publicized incidents around California and the nation of police killing or beating suspects are producing calls for reform. In the California Legislature, more than 20 bills are under consideration, according to a tally by the Los Angeles Times.


… in 1977, during Jerry Brown’s first stint as governor, he signed into law Assembly Bill 301, the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, which made it difficult for citizens and the media to access police disciplinary files even in the most egregious cases of misconduct. The unions cited that law as a major reason for backing his 2010 re-election.


AB619 is by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. It would require state and local law enforcement “to annually report to the [state] attorney general data on the use of force by that agency’s sworn personnel.” This seems reasonable.

AB953 [The correct number is AB 86] by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento. It “would require the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to direct an independent investigation” if someone is killed by an on-duty police officer. According to Mr. McCarty, “There is skepticism in the current process where local DAs investigate cops they work most closely with.” That also seems reasonable.

Legislation Would Create Independent Review in Police Shootings


Cruz Reynoso, in a phone interview on Wednesday, still questions those findings. “The district attorney claimed they were a completely independent body.” However, he argued that the investigator had “worked so closely with  Woodland and other police departments, that they’re very reluctant to be critical of those department.”

They are partners in investigating crimes. “So it becomes really difficult for the DA to come down with a decision that the police have done something wrong.”

Luis Gutierrez was shot by sheriff’s deputies who were part of the Yolo County Gang Task Force. At the time of the shooting, it was housed under the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, but just four months prior it had been run out of the district attorney’s office.

Justice Reynoso argued, “They had a very strong interest in finding that that anti-gang unit had not done anything wrong.”



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