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.

Capitol Beat – The Bail Reform Battle

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

Bail reform is expected to be in the center ring of the criminal justice reform battles this legislative session. In April, the Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing overflowed into the halls of the Capitol. The crowd was what you would imagine: social justice organizations, law enforcement and an impressive number of bail bond agents, led by celebrity bounty hunters Duane “Dog” and Beth Chapman.

Bail, in one form or another, has been a release mechanism since medieval England. Many think it originated as a way for rulers to gain personal wealth. However, when America adapted the bail system, it was a time when the New World had just been discovered and crime was on the rise. New criminal processes, such as bail, were put in place as a deterrent to keep individuals from committing crimes. It was even written into the U.S. Constitution.

Over 60 years ago, the U.S. Congress passed the Bail Reform Act of 1966, which allows for a defendant facing trial for a non-capital offense to be released “on his personal recognizance.” In 1970, the District of Columbia addressed the issue of defendants released for non-capital offenses who were committing more crimes while on bail. In 1984, the federal justice system agreed that the public’s safety should be the guideline for releases. The Bail Reform Act of 1984 states that a person can be detained without bail if he/she:

  • Poses a risk to the community
  • May intimidate jurors or witnesses, or otherwise obstruct justice while out on bail
  • Commits a violent or drug-related crime, an offense carrying a penalty of death or life in prison, or any felony while already having a serious criminal record

Outside of these reforms, the bail system in our country has remained fairly unaltered since its origin. Beginning in 2012, California legislators have been unsuccessfully attempting to pass legislation to reform bail. However, these attempts have been more than “reform”; they were written to remove monetary bail altogether.

This year takes us down the same path. There are two identical “cashless” bail reform bills that have been introduced: AB 42 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and SB 10 by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys). The purpose of these bills is to “reduce the amount of people held in pretrial detention because of their inability to afford money bail and to require each county to establish a pretrial services agency that meets certain specifications.”

The pretrial services agency will track and conduct a risk assessment on a person arrested and booked into jail, but the person shall not be considered for release until he or she appears before a judge or magistrate for a hearing. Plainly speaking, these bills will shift the power from judges to newly created pretrial agencies in determining whether or not a defendant is a threat to the public. If the defendant is not deemed dangerous by the agency, they will be released.

This bill specifies that a person may be detained pretrial after a detention hearing if the court makes 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

The authors of the bills are making an argument that the bail system is discriminatory. They believe that too many poor people are being held in jail because they simply cannot afford to get out, while the rich have the means to be released immediately. The opposition questions these pretrial agencies and the assessment process of determining eligibility. We want to know how these agencies and programs will succeed in guaranteeing the safety of our families.

In existing law, the bail process has promised to make public safety the primary consideration. PORAC understands that the bail system could be improved, but we also believe that removing monetary bail from our criminal justice system will inherently put our communities in danger. PORAC is opposing both measures.

Capitol Beat – Law Enforcement Plays Defense Against Bad Bills

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

PORAC is tracking a total of 262 bills so far this legislative session. If passed, many of these bills will have a positive impact on law enforcement. However, we still have some tough opponents. Although PORAC is proactively sponsoring and supporting legislation, we also have a high success rate in opposing harmful bills. You may recall PORAC’s successful fight against last year’s SB 1286 (Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), which would have opened up an officer’s personnel and investigative files  as well as their disciplinary hearings to the public. Below is a list of bills that PORAC is actively opposing this year.

AB 284 by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) requires that the Department of Justice establish a pilot program creating an independent review unit, to be known as the Statewide Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team, to investigate officer-involved shootings. The unit would consist of three teams located in three regions of the state. The bill would require the unit, upon request from a local law enforcement agency or the district attorney, to investigate and gather facts in officer-involved shootings and prepare and submit a written report that will be posted on the DOJ’s website.

PORAC believes that the best way to win back the public’s trust is to bring them into the process and educate them as to how the investigations are done and the regulations and laws that are utilized, and by publishing the findings when the legal process is completed. Officer-involved shootings are currently investigated by the officer’s agency and the district attorney’s office. Having a third agency do the same investigation is unwarranted and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

As we have seen across the country, even if four or five agencies do an investigation into an officer-involved shooting, if the findings of each agency aren’t what the public wants or was expecting, the anger and mistrust remains.

AB 342 by Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would create a five-year pilot program within the cities of San Francisco and San Jose to test the use of an automated speed enforcement (ASE) system. It would create an automated, robotic system of issuing tickets to speeding cars on numerous city streets in San Francisco and San Jose. Although this is only a pilot program in two cities, this is only the beginning. If this were to pass, other cities and counties would attempt to do the same thing. The way the bill is currently written, the citation would be issued to the registered owner rather than the driver. It is a $100 civil fine; no points will be assessed, which means it is a nonmoving violation. In addition, tickets are issued for 10 miles per hour or more over the limit; however, there is no penalty increase. If you are 10 or 30 miles per hour over the limit, the fine is still the same. There is also no limit to the number of tickets one can receive.

AB 342 is a license to speed. It is doubtful that officers will be deployed on streets where cameras are used, so drivers who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs will skate. The sponsors cite that there are 140 jurisdictions in the United States that use ASE; however, there are somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 cities, counties and municipalities in the United States. At most, 1% of them use ASE, and perhaps even as little as half that. In other words, 99% or more of the jurisdictions in the country choose not to use ASE.

AB 1174 by Assembly Member Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) establishes California as a “right to work” state, which prohibits a person from requiring an employee, as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment, to contribute financial support to a labor organization as specified.

“Right to work” is a deceiving slogan designed to trick people into believing that it protects a workers’ right to a job; however, it does not. AB 1174 does not assure a workers’ job, does not protect a worker against employer bias or retaliation, and undermines living wages and fair benefits.

Moorlach’s Proposed Pension Bills a Serious Concern

Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) has introduced a set of bills to address what he calls a “failing fiscal infrastructure.” These bills could have a serious impact on law enforcement. The entire public safety community has joined forces to actively oppose these damaging measures. Here is a breakdown.

SB 32 would establish the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) of 2017. The reforms enacted in 2012 were designed to bolster the long-term health of California’s public pension system, and they are doing exactly that. Their effects will be measured over the lifetime of thousands of police officers, firefighters, engineers, scientists, teachers, bus drivers and others whose labor provides the state’s public services. It is projected that these changes will reduce collective retirement benefits by about $55 million; however, after only four years, critics believe a negative judgement can be rendered.

SB 454 would make reforms to retired state employee medical health care programs by requiring the annual Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) cost to be 100% funded; eliminate the OPEB 50/50 cost-share split between the state and its employees; require 100% of the benefit be paid by the state; and require all state employees to use the 80/80 formula for basic health benefit plan premiums.

SB 681 would allow local jurisdictions to leave their contracts with CalPERS for their employees’ retirement plans without being excessively charged or penalized.

SCA 8 would give the Legislature and public pensions systems the ability to adjust to retirement benefit formulas on a prospective basis without impacting any benefits earned.

SCA 10 would prohibit public employers from increasing retirement benefits for their employees without two-thirds voter approval in their local jurisdiction.

 

Capitol Beat – PORAC Priorities in 2017

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

PORAC-Sponsored Bill: AB 1428, Transparency for Law Enforcement

The California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in addition to other social justice organizations, have been shopping around various legislative proposals to lawmakers and their staff that would open up the internal affairs and district attorney investigations of peace officers. The problem is that these proposals would attempt this by requiring the release of investigatory files, opening disciplinary hearings to the public and releasing information from an officer’s personnel file. PORAC strongly disagrees with this approach, as it does not take into consideration an officer’s privacy or safety. Last year, rank-and-file law enforcement formed a working group and created transparency language that we feel will reasonably bring the public in on the process of complaint investigations and inquiries regarding officer-involved shootings and serious uses of force.

At the time this article was written, the transparency bill was not yet in print. However, because of the breadth of the content of the bill, it will likely be double-referred. This means that rather than going to one policy committee, the fiscal committee and then the floor, it will go to two policy committees, the fiscal committee and then the floor. It will likely be assigned to the judiciary and public safety committees before moving to the fiscal committee — if it is successful.

Once the bill is out in print, we will be setting up meetings with legislators and staff to educate them and discuss the details and purpose of the bill. 

Assembly Member Evan Low, who has stood by PORAC’s side through many issues during his tenure, has agreed to author the bill, and Assembly Member Gipson has signed on as the principal co-author. Additionally, Assembly Members Bigelow, Cooper, Lackey and Santiago, along with Senator Wilk, have all signed on as co-authors. Below is a brief outline of AB 1428 (Low), sponsored by PORAC, CAHP, LAPPL and ALADS.

AB 1428:

  • Requires each department or agency to provide written notification to a complaining party as to the status of the ongoing complaint investigation, at least every 45 days until final disposition
  • Requires all county district attorneys who conduct an investigation of an officer-involved shooting to report the findings of that investigation on their website within 30 days of the conclusion of the investigation
  • Requires each department or agency that employs peace officers to post reports on its website about serious uses of force by its officers within 30 days of completing any investigation
  • Requires each department or agency to post, at least quarterly, a report on its website containing aggregate statistical information on serious uses of force by its officers
  • Authorizes an agency or department that employs peace officers to establish a mediation program to resolve biased policing complaints; this program would allow complainants to speak directly to the officer(s) they filed the complaint about
  • Requires each department or agency that employs peace officers to post on its website its procedures for investigating complaints by members of the public against its personnel
  • Requires each department or agency that employs peace officers to make available for public inspection the rules and procedures that it has adopted for imposing discipline upon its peace officers and providing for the administrative appeal of an adverse decision

RIPA Proposed Regulations

Another priority for PORAC this session relates to legislation passed last year, AB 953 (Weber), which requires peace officers to collect racial identity information for each stop they make. The bill also created the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board within the Department of Justice, and tasked it with recommending the regulations and types of data collected by officers.  

Currently, the Attorney General is in the process of reviewing the regulations recommended by the RIPA Board. PORAC is asking that the AG remove the language relating to the use of a “unique identifier” for each individual officer and to reduce the number of data points required to be collected by an officer at each stop. Finally, PORAC believes the type of stops where this data is collected should not include calls for service or violations committed in the officer’s presence. We are hopeful that Attorney General Becerra will agree.

SB 54: “Sanctuary State”

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León is attempting to keep law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration agents with his introduction of SB 54. This bill is one of the highest-profile bills in California, as it goes directly against President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

SB 54 would place certain restrictions on state and local government entities in their interactions with federal immigration authorities. PORAC opposes this measure for three critical reasons:

  1. The bill requires a local law enforcement agency to report to the Department of Justice if they are involved in special immigration task forces. These task forces can be costly and possibly non-reimbursable. Additionally, federal funding to our local agencies could be put at risk.
  2. SB 54 plans to remove people with immigrant status from California jails and place them in an outside detention facility — thus separating them from their families, communities and networks, and creating even more difficulties in the family unit.
  3. The breakdown of local, state and federal partnerships will prevent our officers from being able to do their jobs; therefore, violent criminals will remain on the streets and our families will be in danger.

PORAC’s main concern is public safety. We protect all Californians, immigrants and nonimmigrants alike. By targeting immigrants who are not criminals, we violate all that we stand for and lose the trust we have within our communities.  

Capitol Beat – RIPA in the Real World

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

In October 2015, AB 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA), authored by Assembly Member Shirley Weber, was signed into law. This dangerous and poorly crafted measure was strongly opposed by PORAC since it was first introduced, but the political dynamic has changed so much since Ferguson that the amount of support for the bill was staggering. The author claimed that her bill “would prevent profiling by, among other things, clarifying and modernizing California’s current prohibition against profiling to better account for the ways in which profiling occurs, establishing a uniform system for collecting and analyzing data on law enforcement–community interactions, and establishing an advisory board that investigates profiling patterns and practices and provides recommendations on how to curb its harmful impact.” The language is more rose-colored than the real-world implications.

Aaron Read & Associates testified on behalf of PORAC, making two salient points. First, that the bill would codify, for the first time in history of law enforcement, the mandatory profiling of citizens by law enforcement. Second, that AB 953 would clarify that the aggregate information being collected had no way to individually identify an officer gathering the stop data.

The Department of Justice did not waste any time establishing the board. The chosen board includes attorneys, community and spiritual leaders, university professors, civil rights activists and current law enforcement officials. Among the 18 board members, President Mike Durant has been selected as the only rank-and-file representative and one of only four law enforcement representatives. This recognition speaks volumes as to where PORAC stands as a law enforcement leader in California. Yet our voice is hard to hear on a board where the majority appears less than concerned about the safety and security of our officers. Already, the subjective RIPA Advisory Board has gone substantially beyond the requirements of AB 953.

Law enforcement obviously has grave concerns with the direction of the RIPA Board and the adverse impact of the DOJ’s proposed regulations relating to stop data. PORAC leadership, Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman, Mike Rains from Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver, Aaron Read & Associates, and Marketplace Communications worked together to examine the proposed regulations and respond with a letter and talking points for the January board meeting. To summarize, law enforcement has the following concerns with the RIPA regulations.

The DOJ did not give sufficient consideration to the potential economic and public safety impacts of these regulations. The RIPA requirements have significantly expanded the amount of data required to be collected at each stop. It may appear on first blush that 10 to 15 minutes of an officer’s time to report the required data forms will not have major impact, but if you consider the total number of stops conducted each year, the statewide aggregate time complying with these proposed regulations cannot be discounted. We fully understand that the data collection minimally required by AB 953 is the law; however, the potential consequences need to be considered before proceeding with the regulations.

Additionally, the promise of officer confidentiality is being compromised 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 made available to the public. This is 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.

President Durant eloquently raised this issue at the January board. Durant made a motion to have the Attorney General opine as to whether or not the unique identifying numbers and their related personnel would be subject to public disclosure. While Durant’s motion originally passed, a substitute motion was later made and passed to reverse President Durant’s original motion. This sudden shift, in the matter of an hour, unequivocally demonstrates the partiality of the board. We have an uphill battle ahead, with clear enmity directed toward the men and women of law enforcement.

We know that law enforcement officers do their best to protect and serve. While we believe that many of the issues raised are real and deserve addressing, we continue to make significant strides to create solutions that will work in the real world.

The disappointing results of the January RIPA Board meeting force PORAC and the other law enforcement board members to seek the Attorney General’s opinion outside of the RIPA process. Because the regulations are still in the drafting and approval process, PORAC will continue to work to guarantee that officer’s privacy and safety are considered in the final regulations relating to stop data.

Capitol Beat – Governor Unveils 2017–2018 Budget Proposal

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

Governor Jerry Brown’s first major action this year was his January 10 unveiling of the 2017–2018 California budget declaring the ambiguous state of our economy. “We’re in very uncertain times,” he said. “We’re very subject to a lot of unpredictability.”

With that said, Governor Brown released his $177.1 billion state spending plan ($122 billion General Fund) that assumes a multibillion shortfall over the next 18 months compared to what lawmakers projected when they passed the budget last June. The Governor admitted that the proposed budget takes a more pessimistic view of state tax collections than that of the nonpartisan fiscal review by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). As a result, his budget reflects almost $6 billion less in revenue across three budget years, ending in June 2018. That would leave the state with a $2 billion deficit if no changes are made.

The revenue numbers from Governor Brown are significantly below those put out by the LAO in November. The LAO had estimated that the state would collect $6.4 billion more from its three top taxes: personal income, sales and use, and corporation. The Governor’s proposal puts the projected increase at $3.4 billion. The disagreement over this particular number is not new. The Governor’s projected revenue numbers have been consistently lower than the LAO’s and the Legislature’s in the past, and this year is no different. The January budget release will be followed by weeks of budget subcommittee hearings, with the Legislature, as it has in the past, using the larger revenue numbers to craft a budget reflecting its priorities. This will be followed by the May Revision, a revised proposal in that reflects April tax receipts, followed by meetings with legislative leaders to hammer out any remaining differences. The director of the LAO said this budget was significant in its caution.

PORAC, along with Aaron Read & Associates, will be updating the Board and members on budget details once the full budget is released and reviewed. Below are some key items discussed in the January budget.

Keeping the Budget Balanced

The budget proposes $3.2 billion in solutions to ensure a balanced budget. By tempering spending growth rather than cutting existing program levels, these actions minimize the negative effects on Californians. The solutions include adjusting Proposition 98 spending, recapturing unspent allocations from 2016 and constraining some projected spending growth. In total, General Fund spending remains flat compared to 2016–2017.

Bolstering State Reserves

Proposition 2 establishes a constitutional goal of having 10% of tax revenues in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. With a $1.15 billion deposit in the budget, the Rainy Day Fund will total $7.9 billion by the end of 2018, 63% of the constitutional target. While a full Rainy Day Fund might not eliminate the need for further spending reductions in case of a recession or major federal policy changes, saving now would allow the state to soften the magnitude and length of necessary cuts.

Strengthening Transportation Infrastructure

Annual maintenance and repairs of California’s highways, roads and bridges are billions of dollars more than can be funded annually within existing revenues. The budget reflects the Governor’s transportation package, first proposed in September 2015, which would provide $4.2 billion annually to improve the maintenance of highways and local roads, expand public transit and strengthen critical trade routes.

Local Public Safety Issues

  • 2011 Realignment Funding: To provide services more efficiently and effectively, 2011 Realignment shifted responsibility and dedicated funding for public safety services to local governments. In addition, community mental health programs previously funded in 1991 Realignment are now funded primarily by revenue dedicated for 2011 Realignment.
  • Community Corrections Performance Incentive Grant: This was created to provide incentives for counties to reduce the number of felony probationers sent to state prison. The budget includes $114.9 million to continue this program.
  • Post Release Community Supervision: The budget includes $11 million in the General Fund for county probation departments to supervise the temporary increase in the average daily population of offenders on Post Release Community Supervision as a result of the implementation of court-ordered measures and Proposition 57.
  • Fines, Fees and Assessments Review: The court system and numerous programs rely on funding generated by fines, fees and penalties assessed on court filings and citations. In recent years, these revenues have dropped dramatically. The administration reviewed them last fall, examining court filings statewide, the revenues collected from these filings, traffic citations and the collectability of delinquent court‑ordered debt.
  • State Penalty Fund: To recognize the decline in State Penalty Fund revenues, the budget proposes to reduce the number of programs supported by the fund. The existing programs were evaluated and funding from the State Penalty Fund was prioritized for law enforcement training, victim services programs and driver training programs. Based on the fund’s condition, State Penalty Fund support for the following programs, among others, is proposed to be eliminated:

■  Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, Office of Emergency Services: These task forces investigate cyber criminals who prey on children. In addition to the state funding, these task forces receive funding from both their local government and the federal government. This proposal would eliminate the state funding provided to these task forces.

■              California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Program, Board of State and Community Corrections: This program provides grants to locals to collaborate and coordinate with local jurisdictions to reduce gang and youth violence. This proposal would eliminate the grant program, as it is solely funded by the State Penalty Fund.