CPOA Working to Tell the ‘Real Story’ of Criminal Justice in CA

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director. 

A resounding theme from last week’s 27th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Summit, an event CPOA puts on each year with support from our sister associations and agencies, was the need to “tell our story.” This means utilizing the stats and research conducted across California that shows an overwhelming majority of the population that supports their local law enforcement. Additionally, research shows that voters in California wish to address the root causes of crime, and not seek to prosecute officers called to protect them. This data is a start contrast to the Legislature’s recent history of favoring offenders over victims and reducing offender accountability.  

The Legislative Summit opened last week with a panel of legislators that included former peace officers, Assembly Members Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Tom Lackey (R-Lancaster) and Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), who is the author of SB 230. Caballero’s bill is the use of force legislation that focuses on training and policy development, as opposed to Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s AB 392, which seeks to raise the legal use of force standard from “objectively reasonable” to “necessary.”

During his comments on criminal justice reform in California of late, Mr. Lackey, who serves as Vice Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, noted that his committee should be referred to as the ‘offender safety committee.’ That was a telling symbol of how legislators view public safety legislation presented to them. As a law enforcement advocate who has lobbied before that committee, I can certainly attest to that sentiment.

Often driven by emotionally-driven frustration by a small population of their constituents, many members of the Legislature are relaying a false notion that there is a rampant police brutality problem in California. To the contrary, CPOA and other law enforcement groups will be distributing data from a recent FM3 survey of over 800 registered voters in California that shows:

  • A 70% favorable opinion of their local law enforcement
  • A 91% opinion that law enforcement have difficult and dangerous jobs
  • 71% of respondents favoring addressing the root causes of crime, over 23% favoring arresting and prosecuting more officers accused of using too much force.

Additionally, a group called Protect California has released information noting that fatal officer involved shootings in California have declined 40% since 2015. This comes off the heels of the California Attorney General’s 2017 Crime Report, which noted an over 25% increase in assaults against peace officers with a firearm.

As the use of force and other critical legislation that will undoubtedly impact the profession are set for hearing in the Legislature, CPOA will use evidence-based approaches to thoughtful policy conversations and work to tell “our story,” which the data backs as what’s really going on in California. Stay tuned.