Capitol Beat – Hitting the Ground Running

Aaron Read and Randy Perry
Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

This January begins the second half of a two-year legislative session. This means that we will see many of our 2017 priority bills moving through committee and floor hearings once again. We will also see other bills amended with brand-new language for us to review and possibly take a position on. However, we are not just sitting around waiting for things to happen. As always, PORAC is proactive when it comes to legislation, and this year, we will be sponsoring new and significant bills that will impact the lives of our members.

At PORAC’s Annual Conference of Members in November, the Board of Directors voted to sponsor three brand-new measures, as well as to reintroduce a vetoed bill and work to rectify a bill that was signed into law last year. The team at ARA has submitted the PORAC-approved language to the legislative counsel and will be working with the bill authors on strategy and background information. Once the language is introduced, the bill must sit for 30 days before being assigned to a committee. Below are brief summaries of a few of PORAC’s new sponsored bills.

RIPA Amendments

This bill is authored by Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton). As we have reported in past articles, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) was created after AB 953, authored by Assembly Member Shirley Weber, was signed into law. The measure was strongly opposed by PORAC since it was first introduced, but the political dynamic has changed since Ferguson and the amount of support for the bill was staggering. PORAC President Mike Durant was asked to be on the advisory board, and now President Brian Marvel has been sworn in to take over this role.

Assembly Member Weber’s bill promised to keep officers’ identities confidential. However, this is being compromised in the RIPA regulations with what the DOJ is calling a “unique identifying number.”

Prior to AB 953 becoming law, PORAC and other stakeholders were repeatedly assured that the individual identifying information regarding officers would never be released or available to the public. This was critical for the protection and safety of any individual officer and their family, as the data collected may be misconstrued or taken out of all reasonable contexts. Although the legislation makes clear that individual officer identification must remain undisclosed through the aggregate data published by the DOJ, that same information is not similarly protected through court orders or public records requests filed with the individual agency.

Since PORAC was first formed, we have been determined to protect our officers’ safety and privacy. ARA, along with the PORAC legal team, has drafted language to amend AB 953 to ensure that officers’ identities are not breached and that RIPA upholds officer privacy rights as written in the CPRA.

We have an uphill battle ahead, with clear enmity directed toward the men and women of law enforcement. PORAC will continue to work to guarantee that officers’ privacy and safety are considered as these regulations are implemented.

Out-of-State Workers’ Compensation

Our nation has been hit hard over the last few years as acts of hate and violence are becoming a part of our everyday narrative. Unlike most jobs, law enforcement is uniquely trained on how to react to attacks on the public. This is something that cannot be taken for granted. As we saw in the horrific Las Vegas shooting recently, off-duty peace officers from California heroically responded by personally shielding innocent concertgoers, carrying injured people to safety and returning to the scene repeatedly to escort others out of harm’s way at great risk to themselves. Unfortunately, some of these brave peace officers were injured by gunshots. The issue that has arisen from this event is whether or not California’s workers’ compensation system should cover these peace officers who acted outside of state boundaries and were injured. Some of these workers’ comp claims are being denied by the peace officers’ agencies.

Penal Code Section 830.1 (a) defines the authority of California peace officers. Specifically, it states the following:

The authority of these peace officers extends to any place in the state, as follows:

(1) As to any public offense committed or which there is probable cause to believe has been committed within the political subdivision that employs the peace officer or in which the peace officer serves.

(2) Where the peace officer has the prior consent of the chief of police or chief, director, or chief executive officer of a consolidated municipal public safety agency, or person authorized by him or her to give consent, if the place is within a city, or of the sheriff, or person authorized by him or her to give consent, if the place is within a county.

(3) As to any public offense committed or which there is probable cause to believe has been committed in the peace officer’s presence, and with respect to which there is immediate danger to person or property, or of the escape of the perpetrator of the offense.

PORAC understands that is our responsibility to protect our members as they protect the citizens of our country. There’s no on-and-off switch for an officer’s commitment to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Assembly Member Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) has introduced legislation in an attempt to further define the role of a California peace officer and the responsibilities of a peace officer’s employer should they become injured.

Parole Video and Victims

PORAC is teaming up with fellow stakeholders to introduce legislation that provides greater transparency and accountability to the parole process, ensuring that the process does not continue to revictimize the individuals and families of the crime. Officer Archie Buggs of San Diego P.D. was murdered in the line of duty in 1978. His executioner has had four parole hearings since 2012. California’s current parole process continues to revictimize families like Archie’s. This new bill attempts to fix this broken system in the following ways:

  • Provide video of all “lifer” parole hearings, with the proviso that victims or victims’ relatives will have the option to have their video image concealed.
  • Remove the Board of Parole Hearings from the jurisdiction of CDCR and make it into a freestanding agency.
  • Require that the inmate, on the record, demonstrate remorse and insight into the nature of his or her offense.
  • Further, require that the inmate demonstrate the changes he or she has made that demonstrate a departure from his or her prior criminality and state-specific post-release plans.
  • Expand the governor’s authority to overturn or modify a parole grant to include all transactions in which a peace officer was killed. Provide that an inmate whose parole grant was overturned by the governor must wait five years before reapplying.

              Require the Board of Parole Hearings to release the video and audio of the hearing to the public, prominently displayed on its website, within five business days after the hearing.