Brian R. Marvel
I hope everyone had an opportunity to spend time with family during the holidays. Obviously, with COVID-19, this holiday season felt far from normal. As the world deals with the pandemic, many people have had loved ones pass away or suffer from COVID to varying degrees. Hopefully, the people close to you were safe and healthy during 2020, and any family and friends who contracted the virus made it through and are doing well.
I find the end of the year is an important time, even in our current situation, as I reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and failings, not only as the president of PORAC but also in my personal life. In addition, I look forward to the new year with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and boy do we have them.
We are now dealing with the ramifications of the statewide elections. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s race did not go our way, and now the impacts of the new regime of George Gascón are beginning to be felt. Immediately following his swearing-in, Gascón issued a nine-page edict outlining changes to policies and procedures within the DA’s Office. Mind you, Gascón has never prosecuted a case and claims to have served over 30 years with the LAPD. His regime will no longer request cash bail, no longer seek the death penalty under any circumstances and no longer file enhancements irrespective of the type of crime and without exceptions.
One of the other items I would like to highlight is that if an officer has to defend themselves in a life-and-death incident and ultimately uses lethal force against a suspect, the DA’s Office will immediately provide support to the suspect’s family within 24 hours. Take, for example, a scenario where a suspect breaks into a house and beats, robs and kidnaps the homeowners; officers ultimately catch up with the suspect and engage with him, and then during the apprehension there is an officer-involved shooting and the suspect is killed. The L.A. District Attorney’s Office will treat the suspect as the victim and provide taxpayer-funded services to the suspect’s family to make sure that they are treated fairly, versus the true victims who have been traumatized by the suspect.
Needless to say, Gascón received a lot of backlash in his first week of office. Even the local mainstream media came after him, although the question is how long they will do so. If you get a chance, you should read his first edict and follow-up clarification edict, which explicitly states any enhancements or strikes shall be withdrawn and if not possible to dismiss the case. Gascón doubled down and essentially said, as NBC Los Angeles summarized it, “he’s confident a blanket order that bans sentencing enhancements is a necessary step toward justice reform, regardless of what crime victims and their families may want.” Usually, we are on the receiving end of a one-finger salute, but Gascón has decided to give it to the victims!
As I have said many times before, and will continue to say, the L.A. District Attorney’s race was vitally important for everybody in the state to be actively involved in. Unfortunately, Los Angeles County will have to suffer under Gascón’s regime for the time being. Moreover, the public defenders are in cahoots with the DA. They can electronically file a report that the deputy district attorneys are violating his edict — a double whammy for victims. Hopefully the “Recall Gascón” effort gets legs, and more victims are willing to stand up and fight back. Until then, if you live in, work in or visit L.A. County, please be safe. Gascón and his ilk look at you as criminals and not the guardians you are.
On top of that, we have tough times ahead of us with the current makeup of the California Legislature. I believe that we should always expect the best but prepare for the worst. There will be changes to our profession this year; how detrimental they will be is hard to predict at this point. We will have to intensify our grassroots effort and collaboration with all our law enforcement partners, and I will ask each of you to reach out to your local statewide elected officials to make sure they get the message that public safety is a priority, in not only funding but support. We need to make “defund the police” a toxic phrase for elected officials. I hate to start the first month of the new year on a dour note, but the truth is that the future looks bleak. Whatever comes, however, please know that PORAC will be here to support and advocate for you, our members, and all our law enforcement brethren, throughout 2021 and beyond.
Over the last year and now with our second statewide shutdown, a lot of pressure and stress has been placed on business owners throughout the state, especially small business owners, as they try to keep their workers employed and stay financially afloat while continuing to serve their customers. Now more than ever, we should all try to support the small businesses in our community, especially those that have stepped up to support us in our times of need over the years, when we have lost brothers and sisters in the line of duty. These difficult times present us with a great opportunity for law enforcement to give back by supporting our local business communities in return. They were there when we needed them; now they need us. Please shop local.