CPOA Use of Force Town Hall Proved Issue is a Legislative Priority

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.

With a membership of over 32,000 peace officers of all ranks and agencies, CPOA has maintained our ability to get the right people at the discussion table. This was no different last week at our annual COPSWEST Training and Expo conference, where Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the author of 2018’s failed AB 931 joined a panel of experts on use of force and transparency. Nationwide statistics on force use were discussed, as well as methods to sustain community relations. A good chunk of the panel, however, focused on AB 931 and what concerns law enforcement still has over the bill’s focus.

Despite protests from Black Lives Matter Sacramento and other social groups one day after Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Mark Stasyuk was killed in the line of duty, a COPSWEST training entitled Use of Force and Transparency: A Town Hall Meeting was held on Wednesday, September 19th at the Sacramento Convention Center. The panel, moderated by KCRA’s Kevin Oliver, discussed proposed solutions to the eroding community trust of law enforcement in California as well as legislation such as Weber’s AB 931.

“CPOA has facilitated and been at the forefront of these conversations”, said Sheriff Jay Varney of Madera County and current CPOA president. “This morning was no different, and we were happy to engage various stakeholders including Dr. Weber on how we can find a balance to policing that maintains the trust we all desire while simultaneously keeping all members of a community safe.”

Panelists included Sheriff John McMahon of San Bernardino County, Chief Neil Gallucci of Carlsbad Police Department, Attorney Bruce Praet, community activist and reformed felon Rodney Coulter, and Manhattan Institute Fellow Heather McDonald. Oliver questioned the panelists on the issues of racial bias, community relations, use of force statistics and looking to the future. All panelists agreed that the conversations need to continue to avoid a further breakdown of police and community trust.

Although facts about the extremely low frequency of use of force incidents were mentioned, Dr. Weber indicated that the Legislature’s attempt to visit this topic again in 2019 will push hard. She noted that her AB 931 was not a “gotcha bill,” to peace officers. Yet CPOA lobbied every amended version of AB 931, because throughout the legislative year, the bill would have done exactly that.

The Legislature reconvenes on January 1, 2019 and CPOA will be waiting.