Taking Targets Off Our Backs
California has gone mad in terms of its approach to “public safety.” Politicians and community leaders with special interests in mind have turned civility on its head and made good into bad and bad into good.
If you look at recent headlines, soundbites or any new legislation, it seems as though politicians have it out for law-abiding residents of California. They have turned criminals into victims and supported legislation that keeps dangerous felons on the street when they should be serving their debt to society in prison. Good people in our communities are unwillingly becoming repeat victims of property crimes because the current laws deem them “non-violent,” and therefore o er no consequence for breaking them.
Take Proposition 47: Never mind that this ballot measure was won thanks to the crafty – but highly inaccurate – wording describing it as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” Keeping repeat criminals on the street does not make any
neighborhood or school safer. And worse, Prop 47 made it nearly impossible for law enforcement officers to keep these offenders from re-victimizing people because the crooks get no jail time for misdemeanors.
We could go on and on about the problems with AB109 (the prison realignment act), Prop 47 and the newest incarnation, Prop 57, which releases violent criminals early. As if these three weren’t bad enough, there is new legislation practically every day trying to tell law enforcement how to do–or not do–their job.
The real question is what are we going to do about it? As one member commented on Facebook, “ e ACLU sues for everything, why can’t we sue to challenge Prop 47 and 57.”
I agree. We need to right back against this wave of antagonism coming from the California Legislature. At SEBA, we have been meeting with various members of our legal counsel to see what can be done pro- actively. We have looked into various options regarding challenging the constitutionality of Props 47 and 57.
The legal opinions we received pointed to the problem of finding reliable and ample research and data to prove unconstitutionality, or other legal challenges to the law. Prop 57 has not been implemented long enough to gather such data. Prop 47 has, however, much of the avail- able data is skewed toward the view of proponents. True research would have to be done, which is time consuming and costly.
“In that regard, while there are potential legal theories, we don’t have enough development on the underlying research to offer a definitive statement,” one law rm wrote in response to SEBA’s inquiry. “If SEBA wants to pursue this, we would recommend that research be undertaken to flesh out any legitimate theories.”
The other option is to promote new legislation.
I have been in contact with various leaders of other law enforcement labor organizations up and down the state. is seems to be the preferred manner of attack across the law enforcement profession.
I will continue meeting with elected officials and other law enforcement stake holders to deter- mine the best approach to new legislation. Currently, there are attempts to amend portions of Prop 47 in regard to collection of DNA for specific offenses, as well as changing the $950 threshold to an annual cap, instead of an individual crime.
Once the legislation is outlined and we nd an author to sponsor it, we will bring the issue to the SEBA Political Action Committee for an official vote.
Many of our battles are fought locally, in terms of wages, benefits and overall compensation, but these broader issues affect all of us in law enforcement. It is important to maintain state-wide affiliations and connections to battle the nonsensical laws being proposed in this day and age.