Looking to the Elections and Beyond

Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

A reporter recently reached out to PORAC President Mike Durant, asking, “What are the major issues law enforcement is dealing with right now?” Durant did not have to pause for long. He said, “To be candid, the list is long.” The PORAC Board, directing the efforts of Aaron Read & Associates, has been battling an arduous range of concerns during the 2015–2016 legislative session. From body-camera policy and the release of footage, to electronic citations, firearms and transparency, we have worked diligently with stakeholders on highly sensitive and controversial matters. As the legislative session ends in the months leading to the November elections, here are a few PORAC issues that will command our attention.

Relationship With Communities
In July, Americans were dealt a body blow with the tragedies of Dallas and Baton Rouge, resulting in a heated national debate between law enforcement and their critics. We do not dispute a need for transparency, training, new policies and procedures, and doing everything possible to encourage community trust. The threat to officer safety deserves equal attention. Even more, the ability to enforce laws cannot be a discriminatory act.

Although we are in the relatively early stages of the conversation, PORAC is proactive in being a part of the solution. PORAC is working with stakeholders to consider organizing a summit to openly discuss how PORAC can be part of a real response to the problem. As Mike Durant said in a recent interview, “PORAC has never resisted any public discussion on how to engender cooperation between law enforcement and our community. I have testified to the Legislature, and I have encouraged participation with the Attorney General. The reality is that law enforcement has to be part of crafting the solution or it won’t work.”

The following issues need to be part of the discussion:

• Use-of-force situations
° How to track and monitor citizen complaints
° Procedures for internal investigations and disciplinary actions
° Tracking of use-of-force and officer-involved-shooting data

• Use of body cameras
° Do we have enough funding to purchase body cams?
° What is our purpose and scope for body-cam usage?
° Procedures: release of body-cam footage, officer preview and consistency of procedures between agencies

• Equipment and officer safety
° Do agencies have enough firepower and specialized equipment, such as vests, armored vehicles, etc.?
° How will the public react to this type of equipment?

° How prepared are agencies for active-shooter situations?
° How do we inform the public about how officers are trained to handle situations?
° What are the use-of-force and de-escalation training requirements?

Death Penalty Initiatives
The disagreement on the death penalty is not new. However, PORAC believes the most egregious crimes deserve the worst punishment. At some point, we have to say that we will not house and clothe and feed those who have murdered, raped and tortured. There are two propositions on the November ballot that deal with the death penalty. Below is a brief explanation of the two, along with PORAC’s official positions.

YES on Prop 66
The death penalty has become ineffective because of waste, delays and inefficiencies. Fixing the death penalty will save California taxpayers millions of dollars every year, assure due-process protections for those sentenced to death, and promote justice for murder victims and their families.

Death row inmates have murdered over 1,000 victims, including 226 children and 43 police officers; 294 victims were raped and/or tortured. These numbers are devastating. This initiative will ensure justice for both victims and defendants by reforming the appeals process, reforming death row housing and victim restitution, and reforming the appointment of appellate counsel and agency oversight.

NO on Prop 62
Prop 62 repeals the death penalty completely and is applied retroactively to those criminals already sentenced. It tries to soften the impact by requiring that the prisoners work and pay a portion of their earnings in restitution.

PORAC recognizes that the death penalty is controversial, difficult to implement and rarely used. It is reserved for the worst of the worst — those who have committed heinous crimes with heinous extenuating circumstances, such as murders that involve torture or rape. PORAC supports the idea that the enforcement of the death penalty needs to be applied evenly and fairly and timely.