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.

Capitol Beat – Introducing California’s New State Senators

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

A new Legislature is now in place. The question becomes, will we be a one-party state with both houses in supermajority, or will the two-party system either recover or morph into moderate Democrats and progressive Democrats jockeying for Republican support? The way we write public policy could obviously be influenced by the changing demographics of California. This year, we have three new Democrats for you to meet. 

Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco): Jane Kim may have beat Scott Wiener in a lighthearted game of Pokémon Go while campaigning, but when November 8 rolled around, it was Wiener who beat Jane Kim in the race for District 11’s Senate seat. The open seat was last filled by former Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who will be forever remembered by PORAC for authoring last year’s ill-conceived and dangerous Senate Bill 1286. PORAC, along with many other rank-and-file law enforcement associations, adamantly opposed SB 1286, which would have allowed public access to police personnel records, among other things. Our efforts were not in vain, as SB 1286 failed passage through Senate Appropriations. During Leno’s push for support on SB 1286, he approached San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, of which Scott Wiener was a member. Scott was one of three members who not only voted against the bill, but spoke up against Leno’s measure. PORAC is grateful for Senator Wiener’s involvement in this discussion, and we are hopeful for a productive future relationship with him to ensure that the thin blue line is supported in California.

Senator Henry Stern (D-Anaheim): You may remember the holiday classic from 1990, Home Alone. Maybe you even watched it in the last month or so. Actor Daniel Stern, who played the villain Marv, is the father of District 27’s newest Senator, Henry Stern. At the young age of 34, Stern is a Democrat representing parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Before becoming Senator, Stern worked as an environmental attorney and served as a senior adviser to district incumbent Fran Pavley in Sacramento. He worked with Pavley to close loopholes in sentencing and on laws that protect victims of human trafficking. He also worked under Henry Waxman, the former West L.A. Congressman, in Washington, D.C. Stern is well-educated, with a surprising amount of experience under his belt. Endorsed by PORAC and a number of other California law enforcement associations, Henry Stern recognizes that local governments and criminal facilities are underfunded and need to be treated as a high priority.

Senator Josh Newman (D-San Dimas): It was a tight race in the Senate this year as newcomer and community activist Josh Newman went all out to win the vote. You may recall him as the man in the bear suit waving a “Hello, Newman” sign on the street corner. He later revealed that he personally only dressed in the costume a few times; rather, his campaign team did most of the sign waving. Coming into the race, Newman was the underdog. He was underfunded, lacked endorsements and didn’t have nearly the corporate backing his contender, Ling Ling Chang, did. On top of that, Chang’s supporters ran ads that accused Newman of everything from stealing to harassment of women. But the new Senator remained vocal and transparent throughout the whole campaign and ended up securing his seat in the California Senate by over 2,000 votes. Leading his campaign by stating, “First and foremost, I am not a politician, nor do I ever intend to become one,” this Yale graduate, former Army officer, businessman and entrepreneur is now Senator of District 29.

On June 1, 1997, Aaron Read & Associates was given the great honor of becoming PORAC’s advocates. As the highly anticipated legislative session moves into full swing, we have never been more prepared or more excited to be a part of the PORAC team. No one can fully know or understand what the next two years will bring, but we do know that the invaluable leadership at PORAC, along with the combined experience of our team at Aaron Read & Associates, will continue to lead the way in ensuring the safety and security of law enforcement throughout all of California.

We will keep you informed as both houses begin the first year of a two-year session.

Capitol Beat – And That’s a Wrap

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

Election Results

Well, every once in a while a World Series and an election bring about an exhilarating surprise. The Cubs broke a jinx of more than a century. Donald Trump shook the political system to its core and made everyone question the media’s coverage. On November 8, the world watched as 57% of eligible voters in the United States used their freedom to cast their vote in the 2016 general election. Because California’s constitutional officers are not up for election until 2018, PORAC’s main focus during this cycle was on state initiatives and state legislative races. We did very well.

PORAC endorsed candidates in 62 of the Assembly races. Of those, we successfully predicted the winner in 58, for a success rate of 94%. The races that were lost were among the closest and most controversial: Karina Cervantez-Alejo in AD 30, Christy Smith in AD 38, Cheryl Brown in AD 47 and Eric Linder in AD 60.

There were 20 Senate districts on the ballot, and PORAC endorsed candidates in 16. Of those, we successfully predicted the winner in 15, for a success rate of 94%.

Of the 53 California congressional races, PORAC endorsed candidates in 41. CD 7, between Republican Scott Jones and Democratic incumbent Ami Bera, was still too close to call at the time this article was written. Excluding that, we successfully predicted the winner in 38 races, for a success rate of 95%. We lost Mike Honda in CD 17 and Isadore Hall in CD 44.

Overall, very few incumbents were unseated — Congressman Mike Honda and Assembly Members Patty Lopez, Cheryl Brown, Eric Linder, Young Kim and David Hadley.

Initiatives

A total of 17 initiatives were on the California ballot. It was a tight race to the finish line for a few of the measures, but as of November 15, all votes were tallied. PORAC took positions on 10 initiatives, and of those, seven were successful. The following four initiatives have or would have had the biggest impact on peace officers in California.

Proposition 57, the Governor’s plan to decrease California’s prison population, is a follow-up to 2014’s Prop 47, which reduced many nonviolent crimes to misdemeanors and gave inmates a higher chance of parole. Prop 57 passed with 63.74% of the vote. This not only increases the chances of parole for nonviolent offenders, but it also gives inmates more opportunity to earn credit for good behavior. Additionally, as of January 1, 2017, judges, not prosecutors, will be the deciding factor in whether or not juveniles are tried as adults in court. Props 47 and 57 are both responses to a 2009 mandate for California to reduce its prison population. Although Governor Brown met with the PORAC Executive Committee and Board on multiple occasions asking for their support, PORAC opposed this misguided initiative. 

Proposition 62 was developed by Taxpayers for Sentencing Reform to repeal the death penalty, and was strongly opposed by PORAC. If passed, it would have done away with the death penalty and replaced the maximum punishment for murder with life in prison without parole. PORAC sponsored a campaign against this ballot measure, and produced and ran ads featuring Richard Allen Davis, the death row inmate who brutally murdered Polly Klaas. PORAC’s active involvement against this measure played an important role in its defeat. The initiative failed with a 53.79% “No” vote.

Proposition 64, the “California Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” or, as supporters called it, the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” passed with 56.14% of the vote. PORAC opposed this initiative that makes the recreational use of marijuana legal for anyone 21 or older. Additionally, as of January 1, 2018, a marijuana sales and cultivation tax will go into effect. Counties and municipalities are empowered to restrict where marijuana businesses can be located, and local governments can ban the sale from their jurisdiction. Individuals who are serving criminal sentences for activities that are now legal under Prop 64 are eligible for resentencing.

Proposition 66 was one of the last votes to be finalized. It was a close call. Unlike Prop 62, this initiative reforms the death penalty by limiting the appeal process to five years, therefore speeding up the current process for convictions and sentences. Death row inmates will still be required to work while in prison, but more of their wages will go toward victim restitution. Backed by many law enforcement agencies and departments across the state, with PORAC leading the way, this initiative passed with 51.3% of the vote, making it the second-closest vote this year. Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), who lost a niece to the terrible cruelty of serial killers, agreed to be our spokesperson for PORAC’s No on 62 campaign and was featured in PORAC’s statewide TV and radio ads. Thank you to PORAC for continuing to ensure that the worst of the worst killers receive the strongest sentences.

Looking to the Future

In July, Americans were dealt a blow with the tragedies of Dallas and Baton Rouge, resulting in a heated national debate between law enforcement and its critics. We do not dispute a need for transparency, training, new policies and procedures, and are doing everything possible to encourage community trust. However, the threat to officer safety deserves equal attention.

Law enforcement is listening to the community as we strive for safer streets and work to find a reasonable solution to today’s debate. It is not our way to hide from the public. We want a sensible solution that will enhance public safety, transparency and accountability without endangering officers who are already responding to dangerous situations. PORAC believes a new measure can be written to responsibly address the concerns raised by our detractors.

Although we are in the relatively early stages of conversation, PORAC is working with stakeholders to consider drafting legislation to enhance transparency in areas such as citizen complaints, officer-involved shootings and serious uses of force. As always, PORAC will be leading the conversation in 2017 around these critical national issues.

Thank You

The political upheaval promises a busy legislative session. We would like to take a minute to thank each of you for your hard work. To say this year has been difficult would be an understatement. Between the increasing dangers that officers are facing on the streets, the critically important initiatives we fought for and against, the legislative battles we waged, and the vital discussions we’ve had with leaders and policymakers, 2016 was one for the record books. We are proud to be part of your law enforcement family, and we look forward to another successful year as your advocates. Happy holidays!