CA Police Chief Group Claims It Wants to Lead the Way in Police Reform

By Linh Nguyen

SACRAMENTO– The California Police Chief Association announced a new platform of guiding principles and policies intended to join law enforcement with community leaders, elected officials and social justice organizations across the state in calling for major changes and reforms in the police community.

The CPCA, which represents the state’s municipal police chiefs, unveiled its new platform, called California Leading the Way, June 18, 2020, to—the association claims—influence structural changes in the police system nationwide.

The reforms include changes to department policies, officer accountability, transparency, recruitment and retention, mental health and awareness, training and reforms outside policing.

CPCA call its “modernized” platform a guide to internal policy and programmatic change for law enforcement, meant to align police conduct with the expectations of the community and hold officers to an equal standard for all Californians.

“As an association representing over 26 million Californians, CPCA condemns all acts of excessive force and racially biased policing in the country,” said Eric R. Nunez, president of CPCA.

He added, “It is evident that our nation remains host to structural divides caused by racial injustice, and although peace officers are not the root cause of this, we are also not immune from the impacts of our shared past. This transformative platform will ensure greater accountability for California’s law enforcement agencies and will prioritize the safety and shared security of the communities we serve.”

CPCA emphasizes nationwide use-of-force policy requirements, including a national adoption of requirements to intercede against excessive force, de-escalation, protection of peaceful protests and the right to free speech and alignment with California law.

The platform, targeting officer accountability, includes formal decertification of officers under specified circumstances and creating a tracking system for resigning officers who are under investigation or who are set to be terminated. The Attorney General is also called upon to conduct mandatory investigations on deadly force incidents if requested by local agencies.

Police personnel files related to use of force resulting in death or great bodily injury, sexual assault and other serious job-related misconduct will be made publicly available to ensure transparency within police departments. Public disclosure of all law enforcement policies will also be mandated.

CPCA encourages agencies to diversify their police recruiting efforts to increase representation of minority communities in law enforcement agencies. In addition, improvements are mandated to the psychological assessment processes for aspiring officers.

Training for incoming and veteran officers will now include de-escalation strategies and alternatives to deadly force, implicit and racial bias, and cultural and community awareness, said the group.

Other CPCA ideas include mental health and awareness support funding to improve officers’ mental health, because the line of duty can trigger mental illnesses, such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Routine, mandatory health and wellness checks will also be implemented to ensure the continued stability and safety of officers.

Outside of policing, the CPCA said it will provide more educational resources for historically disadvantaged communities to close the achievement gap, promote growth in vocational training and job opportunities, closely collaborate with professionals to provide appropriate response services to those in mental crisis, increase rehabilitative and re-entry services and emphasize access to fair housing.

“Police reform, in and of itself, will not resolve the socio-economic and racial divides in our country,” said Nunez. “Rather, a holistic approach that incorporates equal education, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation services, housing and vocational opportunities must be adopted in tandem. We put this platform forward as an invitation to those who want to work together to find meaningful and structural solutions for long-term change.”

Abdul Pridgen, the vice president of CPCA, believes that peace officers benefit most from positive relationships and compassion with the communities they serve, one of the philosophies from which this platform was created.

Roxana Kennedy, a CPCA board member, explained the naming behind the new platform.

“This platform is called California Leading the Way because that is what we do and that is who we are,” she said. “We truly are leaders leading the way.”

On June 19, 2020, California Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), a former law enforcement officer, held a press conference with California’s Black police chiefs to address police reform.

“We want change,” said Cooper. “We want to have smart change. We’ve got to fix our underserved communities. We haven’t done that; we haven’t committed the resources. But for those underserved neighborhoods, the money has never been there ever.”

Amid national outcry to defund the police, Cooper assumed that the budget should be reallocated toward community resources—for example, educational and rehabilitative services, particularly for those services in underserved neighborhoods of color.

City of Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn noted the coincidental significance of holding the press conference on Juneteenth. On this day in 1865, African American slaves in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom, even though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed two and a half years earlier.

“We are unequivocally dedicated to real change that will ensure that all segments of our community feel valued, respected, and treated fairly by law enforcement and society in general,” Hahn said.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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