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California Legislators Continue To Anger Cops By Introducing Legislation Demanding More Transparency And Accountability

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


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Sep 2021 @ 5:04pm

    Time to break out the nano-violin again

    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.

    Cry those crocodile tears build a bridge and get over it, police are fine with bias when it comes to investigating themselves so even if there was 'anti-police' bias it's about time they get a taste of their own medicine.

    “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 mean they're half right, it is grossly unfair that other states don't have the extreme measures of 'if you're a convicted criminal you don't get to be or stay a cop' or have decertification boards that aren't stuffed with people heavily biased towards cops, but they're dead wrong on who it's unfair towards.

    If US police had shown that they were even remotely interested in policing themselves and getting rid of those 'few bad apples' before they could corrupt the entire barrel they might get more sympathy when the meanies in politics propose and pass bills like this but as it is they've made crystal clear that they cannot be trusted to keep themselves in check so if it's going to happen it's going to require someone else do it who is willing and able to force compliance from police.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2021 @ 11:49pm

    It's almost as if nobody likes the "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, and you have nothing to fear" argument whenever it's used on them. Sucks for the cops who waved it around like an incel's chode-sized penis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 18 Sep 2021 @ 8:35am

    Stick it to 'em

    The more oversight and light shown on these cops, the better for everyone else. How about a law to make their unions liable? How about a law to make suing them as individuals and attacking their pensions possible, instead of causing taxpayers to fund their misdeeds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lucan Vorlov, 18 Sep 2021 @ 10:16am

    I just gotta ask;
    Is there actually any record of perps attempting to slay the officers that arrested them after they have served their time, or is this 100% pure fiction?
    Is there any way to discover if cops stateside - or anywhere - are actually at risk from the threat of assault and/or death from those they cause to be incarcerated?
    I get the distinct feeling that this is just the best BS PR excuse they ever came up with - supported solely by fictional Hollywood movies and cop shows and police union claims - and has absolutely no bearing on events in the real world.
    The way Hollywood presents it is that revenge against arresting cops is a totally common practice among caught criminals once they are back on the street, and present it they do - repeatedly - on every cop show and cop movie being aired today. It is also the union's goto claim every time legislation attempts to discipline the cops for their bad behavior.
    I would love to see what the record actually states about these returning criminals being hell-bent on revenge against the cops who caught'em.
    I think its pure Fed-approved BS and that the record will show exactly this.
    Crooks are all about raising personal capital via criminal means.
    Revenge is never a profitable venture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Sep 2021 @ 1:43pm

      Re:

      What are you talking about, I'm sure it's super common for people who are arrested(and might even be guilty) of a lesser crime to crank things up to 11 and attack a gorram cop, something which the legal system is super chill about and would be sure to treat as just a minor issue once the perpetrator made it to court after being in police custody prior to that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Darkness Of Course (profile), 19 Sep 2021 @ 3:04pm

    Bit of a downward spiral for bad cops

    Okay, now their records are available to the public.
    And they might be forced out of their job because they refuse to protect or to serve.

    Still here, good. They cannot get another CA cop job because they have a history of being a bad CA cop.

    Next up is the private sector: Guess who is going to want to access the records of those applying for employment in the private security sector.

    Just imagining racist X-CA-Cop (tm) realizing that a lot of POC, or worse - Black people, are rich and might not want documented racists on their security teams.

    Somewhat delicious from my viewpoint though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lostinlodos (profile), 21 Sep 2021 @ 12:33pm

    Not wide enough

    I have one single problem here. It’s not wide enough.
    It focuses only on police.

    These bills are lopsided. They should apply these transparency standards to EVERY SINGLE PUBLICLY PAID person. Up to and including government.

    There’s too much focus on cops right now and total ignorance of everyone else. The whole system is corrupt.

    Notice politicians aren’t passing accountability laws covering themselves?

    Every public office needs more transparency.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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