Capitol Beat – Use of Force: Where Are We Now?

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

AB 392 by Assembly Member Weber (D-San Diego), the use-of-force bill we have been working against (but, as amended, we are neutral), passed the Senate floor on July 10. It was approved by both houses and is now enrolled and sent to the governor. PORAC and the law enforcement community worked diligently to ensure that AB 392 did not make it out of the Legislature in its original form, which would have created a “necessary” standard that eliminated officers’ right to self-defense by requiring them to exhaust all other alternatives before using deadly force. In April, the bill was dramatically amended. It now strengthens the state’s current standard for authorizing use of force, but its definition of “necessary” conforms to Graham v. Connor and the objectively reasonable force standard. Due to these amendments, PORAC removed our opposition to AB 392 and went neutral, as did all other law enforcement groups.

Our sponsored legislation, SB 230 by Senator Caballero (D-Salinas), is currently waiting to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. SB 230 is on suspense file, meaning it is determined to have an annual fiscal impact of $150,000 or more; therefore, it will be heard at a special Appropriations hearing with the other suspense bills in late August. PORAC and the team at ARA spent nearly a year developing SB 230 and ensuring that it stays true to our original intent. SB 230 provides officers with the tools and training they need, including de-escalation tactics, interacting with vulnerable populations and alternatives to use of deadly force. We continue to receive pushback on our bill and requests for amendments from the opposition, but we oppose any substantive amendments. We are proud of the work of PORAC leadership has done on SB 230 and the commitment of Senator Caballero in maintaining the integrity of this bill.

The intense debate on use of force continues, but we are confident that our hard work will pay off. PORAC’s primary goal throughout this whole process has been to ensure the safety of our officers and the public we serve. PORAC has played a vital role in working with the governor, legislative leadership and stakeholders to communicate the needs of our members and reach solutions that everyone can agree on. Ultimately, as the largest law enforcement association in California, it is our job to advocate for a reasonable use-of-force package that includes training and sound policy.

Use of force is a topic that will likely be discussed for years to come, but we are confident in PORAC and ARA’s platform, and our strong relationship with our legislative leaders, to ensure that our voices are heard now and in the future.

Summer Recess

The kids aren’t the only ones who get a summer break in California. From July 12 to August 12, the State Legislature adjourns for summer recess. In a non-election year like this, the month is often spent traveling, spending time with family and connecting with constituents in their districts. Next year, it will likely be spent campaigning for re-election. July 12 marked the last day for policy committees to meet and report bills, but the bills that survive policy still have a long road ahead. The reality is, the job of the Legislature never ends.

When legislators return from summer recess, they will have five weeks to get their bills passed. For the team at Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), this means there will be days full of meetings, negotiations and long hours spent in our State Capitol building. Bills can continue to be amended on the floor until the deadline of September 6, and the final day for bills to pass in each house is September 13. If, in the five weeks after summer recess, a bill passes through both the Senate and the Assembly, it is sent to the governor, who then has 30 days to sign or veto it. If bills fail to meet deadlines, they are not necessarily dead; they can oftentimes be brought up again next year as “two-year bills.” However, there are hearing deadlines they must meet. In the coming months, PORAC, along with ARA, will continue to create opportunities to work with legislators and their staff to address the critical issues facing law enforcement.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Aaron Read & Associates if you have any legislative questions or concerns at (916) 448-3444, or email Aaron Read (aread@aaronread.com), Randy Perry (rperry@aaronread.com) or Michele Cervone (mcervone@aaronread.com). We are proud to be a part of the PORAC family.   

Capitol Beat – Legislative Issues on PORAC’s Radar

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

Since Assembly Bill 931 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D–San Diego) was first amended to create a new “necessary” standard for the use of deadly force in April 2018, PORAC and the law enforcement community have come together to proactively address the issue in California. The effort this legislative session has included actively opposing AB 392 (Weber’s resurrected AB 931) and drafting and sponsoring SB 230 by Senator Ana Caballero (D–Salinas). This has been a highly complex and dynamic process that has involved numerous meetings with the governor’s office, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Senator Caballero and many other legislators, as well as meetings with the author and sponsors of AB 392, Weber and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In addition, PORAC has enlisted the guidance of use-of-force experts, lawyers and stakeholders from around the state to develop SB 230, our comprehensive legislation that would minimize use of deadly force in California. 

As a result of the work put in by PORAC leadership and the involvement of legislative leadership, informed and thoughtful amendments were made to both SB 230 and AB 392 that created a unified solution. AB 392 now strengthens the state’s current standard for authorizing use of force without the “necessary” standard, as defined in the original version of the bill. The necessary standard would have eliminated an officer’s right to self-defense by requiring them to exhaust all other alternatives before using deadly force. Due to these amendments, all law enforcement removed their opposition to AB 392 and remain neutral on the bill. SB 230 provides officers with the tools and training they need to implement the updated legal standard put forth by AB 392, including de-escalation tactics, interacting with vulnerable populations and alternatives to use of deadly force. This bill is unlike any legislation introduced in the nation, and PORAC is proud to pave the way in the effort to protect our communities and our officers as they uphold their commitment to serve and protect.

On May 28, SB 230 passed unanimously on the Senate floor (38–0). There were two vacancies in the 40-member Senate at the time. Senators Jim Nielsen, Bob Archuleta, Holly Mitchell and Bob Hertzberg spoke in support of the bill. Both bills are now set to be heard in the opposite house. We feel confident that SB 230 is a positive step toward building greater trust between our officers and the communities we serve.

Battle Over Death Penalty Continues

Every day, the team at Aaron Read & Associates tracks and reviews hundreds of bills that have a direct and significant impact on the way our members do their jobs. Although a solution has been reached with AB 392 and SB 230, our work is not over. Recently, we brought Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 12, authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D–Marin County), to PORAC’s Executive Committee. This measure would amend the California Constitution to prohibit the death penalty from being imposed as a punishment for any violation of law. 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, clothe or feed those who have murdered, raped or tortured. In 2016, California citizens voted to keep the death penalty, while making some necessary “fixes” to save California taxpayers millions of dollars per year, assure due process protections for those sentenced to death and promote justice for murder victims and their families. PORAC played an integral role in the passing of this initiative. ACA 12 undermines the public’s 2016 vote. PORAC is actively opposed to this measure.

Senate District 1 Special Election

On June 4, Senate District 1 held a special election to fill a vacant seat. The candidates running were Assemblymembers Brian Dahle and Kevin Kiley. Both candidates are highly qualified and respected by law enforcement; however, PORAC voted to endorse the senior legislator, Dahle, who has been a consistent and loyal supporter of our law enforcement family for over five years. PORAC teamed up with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) and CAL FIRE Local 2881 to develop a positive radio campaign for Dahle that aired throughout the district. Dahle defeated Kiley 53% to 47%. The newly-elected senator has personally reached out to thank PORAC for its support in his successful election.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Aaron Read & Associates if you have any legislative questions or concerns at (916) 448-3444 or email Aaron Read (aread@aaronread.com), Randy Perry (rperry@aaronread.com) or Michele Cervone (mcervone@aaronread.com). We are proud to be a part of the PORAC family. 

Capitol Beat – The Bills That Don’t Make Headlines

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

On May 16, both the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees held their suspense hearings where all bills with an annual fiscal impact of $150,000 or more were voted on to determine their fate moving forward. Suspense bills are considered after the governor’s state budget revision has been submitted following the April 15 tax filings so that the committees have a better sense of available revenue. The goal of the committees is to provide sound, responsible and affordable fiscal policy, but there are often more political issues at play when the members cast their votes.

We are pleased to report that our sponsored use-of-force legislation, SB 230 by Senator Anna Caballero, was passed through suspense unanimously. Regarding AB 392 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, we are continuing to work with stakeholders in an attempt to reach an outcome that all parties can agree upon; however, our number one priority is the safety of our officers and the community in which we serve.

In addition to PORAC’s sponsored bills and the actively supported and opposed bills lobbied by Aaron Read & Associates, it is important that we also report on the numerous other pieces of introduced legislation that do not typically get the press or attention of PORAC LE News. These are bills that would be either directly harmful to PORAC members or would have a negative impact on the work of law enforcement. Fortunately, the following measures were successfully defeated and were held in the suspense committees, meaning they are dead for the year:

AB 277 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D–Sacramento) would have allowed parolees to earn reintegration credits that could have significantly shortened the amount of time they spend supervised in the community.

The bill only excluded sex offenders, which would mean that every other type of parolee is eligible for reintegration credits, including serious and violent offenders. Individuals convicted of murder, which resulted in lifetime parole, would be able to apply reintegration credits to advance the date of their discharge hearing. We do not believe there would be any public benefit in having those individuals unsupervised in the community sooner than they would be under existing law.

AB 688 by Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D–San Jose) relates to storage of firearms in vehicles. Current law requires a person, when leaving a handgun in an unattended vehicle, to lock the handgun in the vehicle’s trunk, lock the handgun in a locked container and place the container out of plain view, lock the handgun in a locked container that is permanently affixed to the vehicle’s interior and not in plain view, or to lock the handgun in a locked toolbox or utility box. This bill would have made these requirements applicable to all firearms and would additionally require the firearm to be secured to the vehicle’s frame using a steel cable lock or chain and padlock, or in a locked container that is secured using a steel cable lock or chain and padlock or that is permanently affixed to the vehicle, as specified.

AB 1332 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D–Alameda), titled the “Sanctuary State Contracting and Investment Act,” was introduced as a reaction to President Trump’s executive order for immigration enforcement and border security. This bill would have significantly limited or effectively eliminated the ability for state and local agencies to cost-effectively contract for a variety of public services and mandate an untold amount of investment restrictions — forcing agencies to divest from viable sources of stable revenue and create new avenues of costly and protracted civil and criminal litigation. The primary purpose of public agency procurement is to provide vital services to the public. AB 1332 would have crippled this purpose by vastly escalating the time and cost to contract certain services, inviting litigation and creating insurmountable operational and financial challenges — all the while systematically undermining the retirement security of the retired public sector throughout California.

SB 516 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D–Berkeley) would have required gang enhancements to be tried separately from other criminal charges. This bill could have had serious implications on a jury’s ability to consider the motive for the crime(s) committed. Witness intimidation, criminal threats, drive-by shootings and other crimes can only be explained in the context of street gang culture; however, SB 516 would have hindered the prosecution’s ability to connect gang activity to the criminal charges. Furthermore, this bill would have increased the workload of the courts, which could result in higher administrative costs, further prolonging the judicial process.

Below are a few bills that PORAC is continuing to fight as they move through the legislature:

AB 516 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D–San Francisco) would allow drivers to park vehicles in excess of 72 hours anywhere in the state without repercussions. Storage of those vehicles would take up parking spaces for paying customers and would impact retail and restaurant activity in downtown areas. Sales receipts would decline, as would property values. That would result in fewer tax dollars to both the city and the state that could be used to provide meaningful social services for the very people the legislation attempts to assist.

The bill unfairly treats those who comply with laws regarding vehicle registration and the parking of vehicles. This proposed legislation would give the same rights to people who flaunt the law as to those who obey the laws and register their vehicles in a timely fashion. If a vehicle’s owner cannot afford to pay their vehicle registration, then perhaps a more equitable solution would be to allow them to enter into a payment plan with the DMV that would give them a conditional vehicle registration. If a vehicle’s owner has five or more past-due parking citations and can prove a financial hardship, Assemblymember Lackey’s previous bill, AB 503, provides that vehicle’s owner with a means to enter into a payment plan in order to pay off his or her citations. Perhaps language could be added that would codify that a vehicle that has an active and current payment plan under AB 503 would be ineligible for impound.

AB 1215 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D–San Francisco) would prohibit a law enforcement agency or law enforcement official from installing, activating or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer camera or data collected by an officer camera. The bill would authorize a person to bring an action for equitable or declaratory relief against a law enforcement agency or official who violates that prohibition.

PORAC members use facial recognition to identify criminals, often in situations where we know that a possible threat could occur in a crowd or on video that has been captured for the purpose of searching for that dangerous criminal. Assemblymember Ting claims that the need for this bill is based on the numerous wrongful identifications that have occurred due to this technology. We would submit that the number of dangerous crimes that have been thwarted by use of this technology completely justifies its continued use.

For an updated list of PORAC’s sponsored and active legislation, go to www.porac.org/advocacy/legislation-overview. Please note this is not a full list of PORAC’s positioned bills. This list contains the bills PORAC has vetted and voted on as the highest level of priority this legislative session.

Capitol Beat – Priority Legislation

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

Over 2,750 bills have been introduced this year. Of those bills, PORAC is tracking over 215 that potentially have an impact on law enforcement or the safety of the communities we serve. All hands are on deck as we diligently work to pass PORAC’s sponsored bill, SB 230 by Senator Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), and actively oppose AB 392 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D–San Diego). Last month’s PORAC LE News highlighted SB 230, which was introduced by law enforcement to proactively address use-of-force policies, guidelines and training. Law enforcement in California is setting the national standard for how officers interact with the public or respond to an emergency, and it will continue to be the voice for officers nationwide on these issues. SB 230 is a comprehensive approach to reducing use-of-force incidents and ensuring that peace officers can continue protecting California’s communities. 

To break it down, SB 230 will require all of California’s over 500 law enforcement agencies to:

  • Adhere to the use-of-force standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Establish the most comprehensive use-of-force policies and guidelines in the nation.
  • Undergo the best use-of-force training available.
  • Continue to uphold their commitment to protecting all Californians.

AB 392 has been proposed as an “alternative” to SB 230. However, AB 392 fails to include any proactive measures to reduce the use of force. This bill does not in any way change use-of-force policies, training or guidelines; rather, it creates a subjective standard for evaluating use of force that aims to criminalize officers for their split-second decisions during life-or-death situations. AB 392 authorizes police officers to use deadly force only when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death — that is, when given the totality of the circumstances, there was no reasonable alternative to using deadly force, including warnings, verbal persuasion or other non-lethal methods of resolution or de-escalation. 

An officer takes an oath to run toward danger when everyone else is running away. However, the legal standard AB 392 seeks to implement will have a chilling effect on the men and women in uniform by undermining their ability to respond in an immediate and decisive manner — creating a hesitation that would threaten the safety of our families, communities and officers.  

While these bills are PORAC’s highest priority this legislative session, it is critical that PORAC stays active in supporting and opposing all legislation relating to public safety, at any level. Over the next few months, we will introduce you to more of PORAC’s priority bills this session. The following are just a few:

SB 266 by Senator Connie Leyva (D–Chino)

SB 266 will protect a retiree’s promised and paid-for collectively bargained benefits in cases where the benefit is disallowed by CalPERS after the member has already retired. It also sets parameters for resolving future disputes over active and retired employees’ collectively bargained pensionable compensation.

Employers have a legal and actuarial obligation to correctly report pension-eligible compensation to CalPERS as a result of employer bargaining. If an item of compensation is later determined to be improper, it is appropriate policy to require the employer to bear the actuarial liability of that promise made to their retiree. If pensionable compensation is misapplied, it should be corrected. But that misapplication should not come at the cost of breaking the promise made to someone already retired and living on a fixed pension that they depend upon in retirement. PORAC is co-sponsoring this bill.

SB 542 by Senator Henry Stern (D–Canoga Park)

SB 542, “the Trauma Treatment Act,” is co-sponsored by PORAC, alongside California Professional Firefighters (CPF), California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) and CAL FIRE Local 2881. This bill was introduced to address the trauma associated with the occupational duties of law enforcement officers and firefighters. SB 542 creates a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption for these professions in instances where they sustain occupational post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). Despite alarmingly high rates of PTSI and suicide among law enforcement officers and firefighters, currently, California law does not contain a PTSI presumption. PORAC hopes the passage of SB 542 will provide first responders timely access to needed treatment, raise awareness and destigmatize these conditions for those whose mental health may depend upon seeking treatment.

AB 582 by Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R–Fresno)

AB 582 is named after Gavin Gladding, a beloved Clovis Unified School District vice principal who was tragically killed in a hit-and-run incident in 2018. Currently, the penalty for an individual who leaves the scene of a vehicle accident that results in permanent or serious injury or death is a maximum of four years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000–$10,000. The potential sentence for leaving the scene of an accident is not enough to deter drivers, especially those who may be under the influence, from leaving the scene.

Hit-and-runs involving injury or death are seemingly on the rise; 42% of fatal collisions in Fresno in the past three months have involved a driver who left the scene. Right now, there is an inadvertent loophole in the law that encourages drivers under the influence to flee the scene of an accident — not to stay and help. By fleeing, they can avoid additional charges for driving under the influence and causing injury or death.

This bill will address this loophole by increasing the penalty for hit-and-runs that result in great bodily injury or death. AB 582 will encourage drivers to stay at the scene of a crime, even if they may be under the influence, as opposed to fleeing the scene. PORAC supports this measure.

Capitol Beat – PORAC’s Priorities

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

By the time you read this, the Legislature will likely be in summer recess. When they return on August 6, there will only be four weeks left of the 2017–2018 legislative session. PORAC, along with Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), will be busy over the next several weeks working to support, oppose or amend legislation. (See the complete list of PORAC’s active support, active oppose and sponsored bills in the bill chart on the next page.) As mentioned in our previous article, law enforcement is primarily on the defensive this legislative session, opposing critical bills that would negatively impact our officers. Here is a list of some of the current issues that we are opposing:

AB 284 (McCarty, D-Sacramento): This bill inserts the California Department of Justice (DOJ) into the process of studying peace officer–involved shootings (OIS) resulting in a serious injury or death. AB 284 requires the attorney general to do a two-year study of past officer-involved shootings resulting in serious injury or death to determine whether there is a need for change in shooting policy and to make recommendations. The study would look at shootings from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2016. PORAC played an active role in opposing this bill from the beginning. One of our arguments was that we didn’t believe legislation was needed for this issue. Under current law, the attorney general can already go in on an investigation. For this reason, Assembly Member McCarty made the decision to turn his bill into a budget augmentation of $10 million. We met with the Senate budget staff to continue our efforts to stop the request from being funded. We were recently informed that the Senate denied the McCarty budget proposal. As of right now, the funding for the DOJ OIS Investigation program is dead.

AB 748 (Ting, D-San Francisco): This bill requires the release of body-camera footage within 120 days, regardless of whether there is still an active, ongoing investigation, disallowing the use of redaction technology to obscure specific portions of the recording for law enforcement purposes and prohibiting the use of biometric technology on the video. At the time this article was written, we had just been handed amendments to AB 748 that purport to align with LAPD’s new video release policies. The amendments attempt to remove the negative impact this bill could have on ongoing investigations by allowing for extensions. PORAC’s lawyers are analyzing the amendments, and we will follow up when we have more information. AB 748 is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AB 931 (Weber, D-San Diego): This bill would limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer to situations where it is “necessary” to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to a third party. It would prohibit the use of deadly force by a peace officer in a situation where an individual poses a risk only to themselves. AB 931 would also limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer against a person fleeing from arrest or imprisonment to only those situations in which the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving serious bodily injury or death, and there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to another person if the subject is not immediately apprehended. Amendments are being proposed; however, as of this writing, they are not yet in print. PORAC’s leaders and panel attorneys, along with ARA, have been in many meetings over the last couple of months to develop a strategy on how best to defeat this bill. AB 931, in its current form, is detrimental to law enforcement and puts officers and the public at risk. This is our number one issue this year, and every effort is being put forth to keep the bill from moving forward. We will keep you informed as the situation progresses.

SB 1421 (Skinner, D-Berkeley): This bill permits inspection of specified peace officer and custodial officer records pursuant to the California Public Records Act (CPRA). SB 1421 provides that records related to reports, investigations or findings may be subject to disclosure if they involve the following: incidents involving the discharge of a firearm or electronic control weapons by an officer, incidents involving strikes of impact weapons or projectiles to the head or neck area, incidents of deadly force or serious bodily injury by an officer, incidents of sustained sexual assault by an officer or incidents relating to sustained findings of dishonesty by a peace officer. PORAC has met with Senator Skinner, her staff and the bill’s sponsors on many occasions and are working with her office on potential amendments. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, PORAC remains opposed.

Primary Election

As you know, the June 5 primary election is behind us. Incumbent legislators in both houses who were up for re-election advanced to the general election, which will be held on November 6.  

Capitol Beat – Hitting the Ground Running

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

Governor Jerry Brown, who has always taken a more conservative approach to spending, is using much of this year’s surplus to stash away billions of dollars in reserves, both because of the recession that he believes is looming and due to the prospect of the Republican Congress cutting social services in the wake of its vote for a tax cut last month that could swell the federal deficit by $1.4 trillion over a decade.

The budget plan gives a $5 billion jolt to the state’s rainy day fund, which means that fund would hold 10% of California’s General Fund revenue, estimated to give the state $13.5 billion to use in a fiscal emergency by June 30, 2019.

Relating to public safety, included in the past few budgets has been funding for various “transition, education and workforce” programs for inmates leaving state prison due to the AB 109 realignment and Propositions 47 and 57. With this being Governor Brown’s last budget, his administration is very focused this year on prisoner rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. The budget addresses the following local public safety issues.

The Community Corrections Performance Incentive Grant

The Community Corrections Performance Incentive Grant, Chapter 608, Statutes of 2009 (SB 678), was created to provide incentives for counties to reduce the number of felony probationers sent to state prison. The budget includes $106.4 million to continue this successful program.

Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS)

The budget includes $29 million in the General Fund for county probation departments to supervise the temporary increase in the average daily population of offenders on PRCS as a result of the implementation of Proposition 57.

Proposition 47 Savings

Voters passed Proposition 47 in November 2014, which requires misdemeanor rather than felony sentencing for certain property and drug crimes, and permits inmates previously sentenced for these reclassified crimes to petition for resentencing. The Department of Finance currently estimates net savings of $64.4 million for Proposition 47 when comparing 2017–18 to 2013–14, an increase of $18.8 million over the estimated savings in 2016–17. Ongoing savings are currently estimated to be approximately $69 million. These funds will be allocated according to the formula outlined in the initiative.

Transition From State Custody to Local Systems

As a result of various criminal justice reforms over the years, it has become increasingly important to improve the transition of inmates from state custody to local supervision. The administration has found that the existing handoff between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and probation departments is in need of improvement, and plans to strengthen local partnerships to enhance the process for release. By improving information transfer and sharing of resources to assist with a more seamless transition of offenders to the local system, the state can increase success of transition and reduce the likelihood of offenders returning to custody. To this end, CDCR has undertaken several initiatives in cooperation with counties, such as:

  • Pre-release video conferencing allows a probation officer to schedule a video teleconference appointment with an offender prior to release to PRCS. This will increase communication between offenders and their probation officers, allowing for more effective pre-release planning and dialogue related to housing and treatment program placement.
  • In December 2017, CDCR led web-based training for approximately 600 county probation staff to promote a better understanding of its release process and protocols for determining PRCS eligibility.
  • CDCR, in collaboration with the Receiver’s Office and the Chief Probation Officers of California, has developed a protocol for the release of offenders who are medically compromised and in need of specialized community care upon release. The protocols include communication requirements and expedited timeframes between internal and external stakeholders who are impacted by the release of medically compromised inmates. CDCR is also working on a protocol for the release of inmates with serious mental illness.
  • In October 2017, CDCR finished automation of the pre-release information to expedite the process and provide associated data to appropriate staff in real-time. The pre-release information includes offender data such as in-prison behavior and programming, residence and employment plans, reporting requirements, caseworker evaluations, and medical and psychiatric needs.

Since these efforts are in the early stages of implementation, the administration will continue working with the Chief Probation Officers of California to discuss and evaluate their impacts on the handoff process.

Success for offenders comes from continuing partnerships with stakeholders at the local level on diversion, mental health, job readiness and workforce development, substance use disorder treatment, and health care programs that focus more on rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Initiatives undertaken by the administration, such as implementation of the Affordable Care Act and workforce investments, give the state an opportunity to provide offenders with services necessary to end the cycle of crime and become self-sufficient and productive members of society.

Department of Justice

The administration will continue working with the Attorney General’s Office on a funding proposal expected in the spring to implement Chapter 541, Statutes of 2017 (SB 384), which will replace the existing lifetime sex offender registration system with a tiered registration system beginning January 1, 2021. Among other things, the Department of Justice will need to prepare information technology planning documents, update the California Sexual Assault Registry and add staff to support new tiering, exclusion and termination requests associated with SB 384, which are expected to cost millions of dollars annually.

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.

Capitol Beat – The Cost of Cashless Bail

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

June Rodgers’ son was shot 22 times on April 9, 2017. Just four days earlier, her son’s killer, Jules Black, a convicted felon who was arrested for illegally carrying a 9 mm pistol, was released from jail as a result of New Jersey’s Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act. After a lengthy assessment screening developed by the Arnold Foundation, Black was not considered a threat to society or likely to commit another crime prior to his hearing on the possession charge. The prediction couldn’t have been more wrong, and it cost June’s son, Christian, his life.

Following in New Jersey’s footsteps, our state legislators are faced with the decision to reform the bail system in California. Like in New Jersey, the reform removes monetary bail and establishes an assessment tool to determine whether or not a criminal must remain detained until their court date or be released under their own recognizance. There is also talk about California using the same, and obviously flawed, Arnold Foundation pre-trial assessment tool. Although changes were made in the assessment within a few months after Rodgers’ death, we can’t help but ask ourselves, can one assessment truly determine whether or not a criminal will commit another crime if released without bail? Is that something a series of questions can legitimately predict?

California’s bail reform bill, SB 10, authored by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), passed through the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 4–2 vote with one Assembly member abstaining. There were many concerns up for deliberation during the hearing, and one Assembly member set an expectation for Hertzberg, noting that he should clarify the bill moving forward to address the Committee’s concerns and consider his bill a work in progress.

PORAC remains strongly opposed to SB 10. PORAC leadership, along with the team at Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), continue to work with a coalition of law enforcement and crime victim groups to fight this dangerous bill. The author of the bill has not accepted the amendments that law enforcement has offered.

PORAC is opposed to SB 10 for the following reasons:

  • SB 10 retains probable release for significant crimes, including domestic violence and certain crimes involving human trafficking.
  • Although SB 10 allows the prosecution to make a motion seeking pretrial detention in limited felony cases, the timelines created by SB 10 make those hearings unrealistic and unspecified.
  • As currently written, SB 10 imposes unrealistic responsibilities and expectations on the pretrial services agencies that courts and district attorneys would rely on for information in making decisions. Police reports and investigations may be ongoing, and victims may still be undergoing medical treatment, sexual assault examinations and police interviews. We cannot expect victims still recovering from trauma to testify in contested hearings within hours of an incident. Without this relevant information, the court cannot make a reasonable verdict regarding public safety, the victim and the defendant.
  • Finally, we are concerned that the permissive structure for release under SB 10 will be insufficient to ensure that the accused return for their court date.

Strategy

On August 4, the PORAC Board voted to introduce a new bail reform bill written by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. PORAC, along with the California District Attorneys Association, California Police Chiefs Association, Crime Victims United, and other law enforcement organizations are co-sponsoring this legislation, which works to reasonably reform our current bail system without jeopardizing the safety of communities. Earlier this year, Lacey put together a bail task force within her department in an effort to distinguish areas in our bail system where the assessment tool can be used, without eliminating monetary bail altogether. The information gathered was written into the bill. The language has been approved, and we are currently seeking a bill into which our new language can be amended.

PORAC understands that our bail system needs improvement. However, SB 10 fails to find a balance between the need for reform, public safety and the protection of victims. Our bill finds that balance without creating the overly burdensome, costly and complicated system proposed by SB 10.

New Jersey’s bail reform took effect this January, and we already have proof of its deadly implications. Today, June Rodgers is standing up against cashless bail in honor of her late son. With the assistance of Duane Chapman, also known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, the grieving mother has filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino and the Arnold Foundation.

Finally, one of the major supporters of New Jersey’s cashless bail program, Assembly Member Bob Andrzejczak, has officially written a letter of opposition to SB 10 in California. In it, he specifically states that he was also told that the new system would apply only to low-level offenders.

“The reality is that dangerous and career criminals are released daily within hours of arrest. We should never have considered free bail to those who commit crimes where a citizen has been victimized,” Assembly Member Andrzejczak said.

Capitol Beat – War on Police

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

In spite of our knowledge of the legislative process, we can never anticipate all the surprises that each legislative session brings. PORAC and the team at Aaron Read & Associates (ARA) enter each session equipped with the experiences of the past, homework to address new issues and an understanding of how the future will be shaped. Last session, we had a tough fight with Senator Mark Leno’s SB 1286, which would have opened peace officers’ investigatory files and disciplinary hearings to the public. PORAC and ARA established a working group of rank-and-file law enforcement organizations to oppose the measure. Our efforts were not in vain, as the bill died in Senate Appropriations.

The successes of the working group led to the introduction of AB 1428 by Assembly Member Evan Low. This bill is law enforcement’s response to the highly publicized debate on police transparency. PORAC, along with the other sponsors of AB 1428, wrote this comprehensive measure determined to lessen the divide between the police and the community by providing reasonable transparency without threatening the safety of our officers and their families. As the bill continues to move through each committee with little to no opposition, we are well aware that our work is not done. For every bill PORAC introduces, we are faced with substantially more bills that we must oppose. There are over 20 bills on which we have taken an “active oppose” position, meaning we are testifying in committee, working with others in opposition and meeting with legislators to discuss our serious concerns.

You would have to live under a rock to not realize that being a police officer in California is much more difficult than it used to be. Law enforcement and the media have had major battles over the last few years, and those battles often occur inside the rooms of the Capitol. Beginning with Ferguson, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black Lives Matter, Men and Boys of Color, and the California Newspaper Publishers Association have taken a lead role in introducing legislation that suggests the police are the problem. Although we cannot argue that all officers are good, we stand behind the truth that for every bad cop, there are thousands of honorable cops. It’s unfortunate that the actions of a select few have created the trending atmosphere of “us versus them.” 

In a recent Fox News article reporting on the increase of police deaths in 2017, Randy Sutton, the national spokesman for Blue Lives Matter and a retired Las Vegas police lieutenant, discussed the hostility and divide by saying that “part of the war on cops [is] the failure of police leadership to step up to the plate and not acquiesce to political considerations when it comes to the safety of police officers. The other part of the war on cops is the failure of the media to post anything positive about police. All they do is put up damaging stories and spin much of that into a narrative that is false and perpetuates a distorted narrative.” The truth is that we want to work closely with community leaders. We want peaceful neighborhoods where families are safe.

Earlier this year, AB 748, a bill relating to video and audio recordings of peace officers, was introduced. The bill posed no threat to law enforcement as it sailed through the Assembly. It wasn’t until the bill was set to be heard in Senate Public Safety in July that the team at ARA was asked by Assembly Member Ting’s staff to meet. At that time, we were handed significant amendments to the bill. The sponsors of AB 748, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and California Public Defenders Association, are now seeking to make changes to the California Public Records Act (CPRA) that would be harmful to all law enforcement. The advocates at ARA made it clear that it is not lost on us that the author moved a fairly innocuous bill through the Assembly and waited until getting over to the other house to drop in this objectionable language.

Not only do incidents such as Ferguson bring about new legislation, but many bills have been introduced as the result of President Trump’s election. In California, Senate leader Kevin de León introduced Senate Bill 54 to combat the Trump administration’s order to broaden deportation borders. SB 54, otherwise known as the “Sanctuary State” bill, would keep law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration agents. This bill would place certain restrictions on state and local government entities in their interactions with federal immigration authorities. Senator de León has accepted some of law enforcement’s proposed amendments to the bill, but PORAC continues to oppose the measure.

PORAC is listening. We have introduced body camera and CPRA bills in an effort to do whatever it takes to protect witnesses and victims from videos depicting an officer killed in the line of duty. We are working with legislators to educate them on the priorities of law enforcement. We remind the public that our men and women in blue do what many people can’t or won’t do — risk their lives for a stranger. When difficult issues arise, PORAC does not bury its head in the sand, we do something.

“People don’t understand the sacrifices officers make. There are not too many professions where people are murdered while doing their job, and this is one profession where people are killed somewhat routinely in performing their job.” — Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) Research Director Steve Weiss

Capitol Beat – Law Enforcement on the Front Lines Against Cashless Bail

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

The intensity on the California State Assembly floor on the evening of June 1 was elevated as the highly debated bail reform bill AB 42 — authored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Californians for Safety and Justice, and California Public Defenders Association, among others — was deliberated. In the weeks leading up to the hearing, PORAC teamed up with other law enforcement organizations and crime victim organizations to shed light on the immediate dangers of the proposed “cashless bail” system. Earlier in the week, AB 42’s identical legislation, SB 10, authored by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), passed on the Senate floor 26–11 with three members abstaining. However, more moderate ideas prevailed later in the day. Assembly Member Bonta’s AB 42 did not move out of the Assembly.

Last year, Senator Mark Leno introduced SB 1286, which would have had an immense impact on our officers, yet we were never asked to be part of the discussion. When it comes to the future of bail reform, PORAC is committed to being a significant contributor in assuring that the legislation adheres to the priorities of law enforcement and strengthens the security of our officers. In matters of public safety, law enforcement deserves to be included in the conversation. There can be no argument that when criminals are released from jail or prison, there is an immediate risk to the safety of our families.

Senator Hertzberg’s bill (SB 10) is now awaiting policy committee assignment in the Assembly. PORAC will sit down with the Senator for genuine discourse on the bill and, if possible, offer amendments. If we cannot reach an agreement, we will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners and protect our communities from the harmful policy contained in SB 10.

SB 10 specifies that a person may be detained pretrial, after a detention hearing, if the court makes one of the following findings, which are consistent with the California Constitution:

  • The defendant has been charged with a capital crime and the facts are evident or the presumption great
  • The defendant has been charged with a felony offense involving an act of violence on another person, or a felony sexual assault offense on another person, the facts are evident or the presumption great, and the court finds based upon clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood the person’s release would result in great bodily harm to another person or persons
  • The defendant has been charged with a felony offense, the facts are evident or the presumption great, and the court finds based on clear and convincing evidence that the person has threatened another with great bodily harm in the charged case and that there is a substantial likelihood that the person would carry out the threat if released

In existing law, the bail process promises to make public safety the primary consideration. PORAC understands that the bail system needs to be reviewed. We also believe that risk assessment programs are important tools when considering the release of an arrestee. However, eliminating the bail system in exchange for a risk assessment program alone is not the answer. If reasonable minds prevail, there are possible amendments that will protect the safety of our communities, while allowing those who are unfairly incarcerated to be free.