October 24, 2021

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California Gov. Newsom signs sweeping police reform bills – Fox News

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a series of police reform bills Thursday to address law enforcement misconduct that would strip officers of their badges for a range of incidents, among other measures. 

Surrounded by lawmakers and the family members of victims killed by police officers, Newsom signed four bills he touted would increase transparency. During his remarks, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said there is a “crisis of trust” when it comes to law enforcement. 

“We’re delivering concrete solutions from banning dangerous holds that lead to asphyxia to multiple other mechanisms that improve accountability and oversight and transparency,” he said. 

But more than three dozen groups representing police officers opposed the legislation, claiming it subjects law enforcement officers to double jeopardy with vague definitions of wrongdoing and calls for the use of an oversight panel that would potentially be biased and lacking in expertise about law enforcement, The Los Angeles Times reported.

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In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in San Francisco. On Thursday, he signed a series of police reform measures in an effort to increase transparency. (Associated Press)
In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in San Francisco. On Thursday, he signed a series of police reform measures in an effort to increase transparency. (Associated Press)

Senate Bill 2 “merely requires that the individual officer ‘engaged’ in serious misconduct – not that they were found guilty, terminated, or even disciplined,” the California Police Chiefs Association wrote in a letter to state lawmakers, according to the Times.

Another bill, Assembly Bill 26, was opposed by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, which said it participated two years ago in an effort to change the state’s use-of-force policies, the Times reported.

The Assembly bill calls for officers to intervene if they suspect a fellow officer is using too much force against a suspect, but the police group argued that in fast-moving incidents, an officer arriving at the scene of an incident might not have enough information to determine if the force is excessive, according to the newspaper.

With Newsom’s signings, California joins 46 other states that have laws on the books allowing officers to be fired for acting criminally and for incidents involving racial bias and excessive force. The reforms also raise the minimum age for police officers from 18 to 21, ban some restraining techniques and limit the use of rubber bullets during protests. 

“I’m here as governor of California mindful that we’re in a juxtaposition of being a leader on police reform and a lagger on police reform,” Newsom said from a park gymnasium in the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena. “We have a lot to be proud of but there’s areas where we have nothing to brag about.”

While signing the legislation, supporters chanted “Say his name,” in reference to Kenneth Ross Jr., a 25-year-old Black man who was killed in 2018 when an officer shot him at the same Gardena park where the Thursday event occurred. An investigation determined the officer, Michael Robbins, acted lawfully when he shot Ross. 

Ross’ mother, Fouzia Almarou, said she hopes the bill prevents the loss of life, particularly for people of color. 

“This bill means a lot because it’s going to stop police from attacking and targeting and being racist towards Black and brown people,” she said. 

In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, police hold their clubs as they form a line in front of supporters of President Donald Trump on Election Day in Beverly Hills, California. (Associated Press)
In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, police hold their clubs as they form a line in front of supporters of President Donald Trump on Election Day in Beverly Hills, California. (Associated Press)

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Sandra Quinto Collins, the mother of Angelo Quinto, brushed back tears as she thanked lawmakers for passing the reforms. Quinto died when a San Francisco police officer pressed his knee against his neck during a mental health response call last year. 

“To lose a son, to lose a brother, sister, dad — that pain, that intensity, that expression is reflected not just in the words of these two remarkable women and their families, but we hope reflected in this legislation,” Newsom said. 

The bill’s signing came after failed negotiations in Congress halted a bipartisan police reform plan. 

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