California Legislator Presses for Change in Law on False Police Reports against Blacks

Prior to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police, the nation was rocked by an incident that occurred in Central Park where a woman was caught on video, calling the police on a Black man who asked her to leash her dog.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she said.

While overshadowed by subsequent events, the incident has led legislator all over the country to introduce bills that would make such false reports illegal or hate crimes.

In California, Assemblymember Mark Stone has amended AB 1472, which would make false reports to police, including 911 calls, a violation of the Ralph Civil Rights Act when made against a person because of that person’s race or other protected characteristic. This bill would also allow for civil action against persons who make false police reports or claims, regardless of discriminatory motive.

“Across California and across the country, people are again demanding that those of us in elected office deal with the systemic, institutionalized racism inherent in law enforcement and other governmental systems. Black Americans are overpoliced and subject to higher rates of police brutality, use-of-force, harassment, arrest, and incarceration,” said Assemblymember Mark Stone.

He added, “This violent oppression is devastating to Black communities and contributes to higher rates of mortality and poverty, among a multitude of other negative outcomes.  In addition to Black communities, American Indian/Alaskan native and Latinx communities are also disproportionately affected by policing in America.”

There have been many highly publicized examples of unnecessary or patently false calls to law enforcement that threaten people of color.

The incident of  Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York who falsely claimed that a Black man was threatening her life after he requested that she follow park rules about leashing her dog.

But there is also Jennifer Schulte, a white woman who requested police response to a Black family who was barbequing at a lake in Oakland.

Such acts weaponize the police, endanger lives, and contribute to the over-policing of Black communities. Filing a false or unnecessary police report motivated by racial bias, whether purposeful or simply reckless, is a discriminatory act.

AB 1472 amends the Ralph Civil Rights Act to specify that “intimidation by threat of violence” will include claims be defined to include claims or reports made to law enforcement “that falsely alleges that another person has engaged in unlawful activity, or an activity that requires law enforcement intervention, knowing that the claim or report is false, or with reckless disregard to for the truth or falsity of the claim or report.”

AB 1472 will specify that making a false report to the police, knowing that it is false or with reckless disregard to its truth or falsity, constitutes an “intimidation by threat of violence” under the Ralph Act.

Further, AB 1472 will specify that a police communication made “knowing that the claim or report is false, or with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the claim or report” is not privileged publications.

This would prevent a person who makes a report in violation of the Ralph Act from raising “privileged communication” as a defense, and it would also allow for civil actions on other grounds even if the false report is not motivated by bias against a protected characteristic.

This bill is currently in the Senate and is waiting in Senate Rules for referral.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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53 Comments

  1. Keith Olsen

    There have been many highly publicized examples of unnecessary or patently false calls to law enforcement that threaten people of color.

    I don’t see why this law should apply to only people of color, it should apply to anyone who makes a false report to law enforcement about any race.  There have been many highly publicized examples of people of color making false reports about whites.

    Jussie Smollet and Crystal Mangum of the Duke lacrosse case come to mind.

  2. PhilColeman

    While the proposed bill stresses the African-American race of a victim as being the basis for criminal or civil court action, the actual content uses the term, “protected characteristic.” This is done to take advantage of an existing defined statute prohibiting discrimination generally.

    Protected classes of persons include persons of all races, creeds, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and age-defined senior citizens. Anyone who calls the police and asks for law enforcement intervention involving over half the American population is potentially subject to prosecution by simply alleging that the caller was biased.

    What a great idea!

    Now the police can take two reports and district attorneys and courts can process these additional allegations while already having too many criminal and civil complaints to process now.

    Phone calls to the local police falsely portraying a purported criminal suspect is quite common. It’s been well chronicled in studies of policing in minority neighborhoods that a caller will include the false assertion that “he may have a gun” to prioritize the response from an understaffed police patrol force.

    Responding officers do come quicker, and also are reasonably more defensive in their approach. The needless cautious approach by uniformed officers indisputably adds to the image of over-policing, added threat of violence, and intimidating in minority neighborhoods (borrowing the rhetoric of the above column). The irony here is that in a minority neighborhood, both the accuser and accused are of the same protected class.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      I think you are missing a key point – the conduct would have to be egregious. The Amy Cooper example clearly comes to mind.

      But this would be an interesting test case… The musical group at the event on Sunday six Black women told the story of practicing in the park in Oak Park. A cop is called on them, the female cop walks up to them, realizes there is no problem, and apologizes to the women and says she will write it up and not knowing the call was about.

      Compare that to another story there were a few young Black men hanging out, the cops are called, the cops arrive for whatever reason hot, they throw the guys around, beat the hell out of one of them. Take them down to jail and then release them with no charges (not even resisting arrest). That happened in Oakland.

      Both cases involved people falsely reporting Black people, in one case the cop handled it appropriately and in the other, the police didn’t.

      This is what we are talking about. Not gray areas.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Appears you’re talking about police responsenot about the ‘reporting parties‘, which is what the topic is supposedly about… you think it’s “black and white”… by not focusing on those who filed the reports, am thinking there are 30-50 shades of gray…

  3. Bill Marshall

    I like some of the concepts, but have some of the same concerns that Phil appears to have…

    Will have to read the Bill…

    Unclear, is whether a white woman, filing a false report for rape against a white male would be subject to the proposed provisions?… a woman ‘of color’, filing a false report for rape against a white male would be subject to the proposed provisions?

    I’ll reserve an opinion until I know more…

    1. Edgar Wai

      While I believe that the law should apply equally to all police reports done in bad faith, it seems that having partial coverage is better than having no coverage.

      The intent of partial coverage might be to protect POC from false accusations of false reports (i.e. The police turns against a POC for making a legitimate call by falsifying evidence against the POC who called in good faith).

      They might be trying to prevent such unintended consequence.

  4. Jeff Boone

    This is just another move by California liberals to make California less hospitable and less safe and less viable as a place to call home.  It is just another example of the destructive victims mindset of the leftist elite, the soft bigotry of low expectations for people they feel below them and in constant need of their care… and the chronically failed ideology of the collective being capable of overcoming individual failures and flaws.  With every boneheaded ivory tower imagined new rule they can design, the negative consequences mount.  The people they claim to be helping become more and more disadvantaged as they are tagged by their handlers as losers incapable of mainstream behavior… and are patterned to expect and need this extra help to cope with a world… ironically made more challenging by actions and politics of their handlers.

    The primary difference in worldview between a conservative and liberal is one of individual character and behavior expectations for progress vs collective control for progress.   The former is the truly progressive mindset.  The later… well it has proven disastrous for every attempt throughout history.

    Today we have produced and continue to produce VAST numbers of Americans that are passionate about fixing American while they continue to do less and less about fixing their own individual character and behavior flaws.

    The problem is that you cannot make society better without first making its people better.  We are making our people worse and we can see it in real time.  The police are just having to deal with the mess.  The mess is inconvenient to the politics of those causing the mess, so they scapegoat the police… or any other group they can find to blame so they don’t have to except responsibility for the terrible tragedies they have had a hand in causing.

    Wake the eff up.

    1. David Greenwald

      Your comment would be more helpful if you addressed the specifics of the bill and why you don’t like it rather than an ideological attack that is steeped in generalities. From this, I have no idea why being able to file a false police report makes us more safe.

    2. Jeff Boone

      Your comment would be more helpful if you addressed the specifics of the bill and why you don’t like it rather than an ideological attack that is steeped in generalities. From this, I have no idea why being able to file a false police report makes us more safe.

      You are missing my point.  I am addressing the specifics and why I don’t like it.  I don’t like it because it perpetuates the soft bigotry of low expectations.  If this is a big enough problem to warrant this level of attention (and I doubt it is) then it is one that identifies a flawed human character.  You can already be punished with up to six months in jail and fines for false accusation.

      Think about this.  You are one to decry the problem with over policing; yet here is another new law that the police will be expected to enforce.  You keep pushing the burden to law enforcement for a broken social system where basic civility and care about your fellow American has wasted away.  Ironically it is your ideological cohort that is demonstrating the bulk of this individual incivility today, and here you support a new rule to punish what is basically just more of the same.

      This also perpetuates racism as liberals continue to make policy based on race when the issue is basic human decency, or the lack of it.   We clearly see the accumulated results of these things… a going backwards in both common decency and racial harmony.  Cops are not causing it… stupid people supporting the never ending pursuit of utopia through endless new race-based laws and penalties.

      You keep adding to the list of law enforcement actions and then you cry about law enforcement being unfair.   You need to stop one or the other.

      1. David Greenwald

        “You are missing my point. ”

        The one point I agree with. I am missing your point and I still am. I still don’t understand what anything you have said has anything to do with filing false police reports on Black and Brown people.

      2. Jeff Boone

        The Ralph Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code Section 51.7) forbids acts of violence, because of (for example) your race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, political party, or your part in a labor dispute.

        WHAT KINDS OF ACTS ARE FORBIDDEN BY THE LAW?

        Threats, verbal or written

        Physical assault or attempted assault

        Graffiti

        Vandalism or property damage

        https://police.ucsc.edu/quick-start/know-your-rights.html

        So this is basically hate crime law.  I have always viewed it as idiocy because the physical, vandalism and property damage crimes were already in there.  What is left is policing civility.  Policing words.  Policing “feelings”.   And this amendment just adds more of the same.

        The fact that you don’t get this is telling.

        You are advocating for more responsibility and authority to be given to law enforcement to police civility while you support incivility (civil disobedience and more).  You are arming the police with the very type of role that you then come back to claim is draconian and that the police are out of line.

        You cannot see the bigger picture.  You are so myopically focused on transnational reactions to injustice, that you end up creating a bigger pool where injustice can flourish.   This will make the law much less clear, much more subjective… and more mistakes and abuse will happen.

        1. John Hobbs

          ” What is left is policing civility.  Policing words.  Policing “feelings”.”

          Yeah, like the feeling of a cop standing on your neck when you’re suffocating.

          The feeling of being interrogated and made to prove ownership when you move into a new home. The feeling of being interrogated and made to prove residency/citizenship while cleaning up your yard or walking to the store. The feeling of being prohibited from using your apartment building’s pool because some white folks don’t like sharing. The feeling of being threatened when trying to get into your apartment building because some white tenant doesn’t want you there.

          But of course the thick skinned Boone knows how he would deal with these issues, because he knows how it is to feel marginalized and threatened every day of his life because of his race, right?

        2. Jeff Boone

          Yeah, like the feeling of a cop standing on your neck when you’re suffocating.

          No, that police officer is accused of murder.

          The feeling of being ….

          Again, so you want the police to prevent the hurt feelings caused by ignorance or a lack of civility?  Either someone suspects foul play, or they are an uncivil idiot.  You don’t think this will end up causing criticism of the cops for “going too far”.  There is a NASCAR driver claiming white supremacists put a noose in his secure garage that contains millions of dollars worth of equipment… they just put a noose in there.  Did not touch anything else.  No spray paint.  Nothing stolen.  Nothing else.  Now someone claims another Smollett stunt and the cops come to take Bubba to the station for questioning… because his state passed a new law that these things are serious and people need to be punished!

          But of course the thick skinned Boone knows how he would deal with these issues

          As a long hair rock musician in the 1980s, I got pulled over numerous times by the Davis PD while driving at night.  They suspected me of having drugs in the car I am sure.  And I fit the profile based on the actual statistics… white dudes in their 20s with long hair driving around the town late at night.  I am sure when dropping off cassette tapes to my band members I was ratted out by someone looking out the window.  I got over my hurt feelings and moved on.  It would be good for you to get some therapy so you too can move on.

      3. Alan Miller

        yet here is another new law that the police will be expected to enforce.

        Yeah, I was gonna point that out.    This is where your views, JB, align with my conservative side.  If there is a discrepancy in race incidents by numbers, the law should take care of it according to the number of crimes committed — what is the purpose of the race part?   Now, it is possible that the laws are not enforced equally, and then you get down to the issue of why, and is that in internal problem – but not one this law addresses.  The law itself may only serve to cover up the problem by addressing the numbers by symptom, not cause.

      4. Edgar Wai

        Think about this.  You are one to decry the problem with over policing; yet here is another new law that the police will be expected to enforce.

        The overall effect could be fewer service calls. I don’t know how likely, but it is possible.

        Honestly I thought it is already illegal to make plank calls or false accusations. I thought “SWATing” is illegal and the caller could go to jail.

         

  5. John Hobbs

    If you are afraid because someone of a different race is moving into the house next door, you need to call a shrink and or shut the eff up. If you call the cops on a black realtor showing the home next door, you need to be cited for abuse of the 911 system. If you call the cops on a 12 y.o. girl selling water, you need to be cited and possibly charged with child abuse. White entitlement is systemic racism in its most common expression. It needs to be forcefully addressed so that these racists understand it is not an acceptable behavior. If you can enact and enforce laws against exposing someone to second hand smoke, you can certainly protect people from the possibly deadly consequences of police intervention.

  6. John Hobbs

    BTW-It seems like some Davisites use the same deflective and bb stacking arguments to avoid dealing with systemic racism that they use to defeat attempts to build housing and improve infrastructure. hmm…………..
    BTW when was the last time (or first) a white Davisite had the cops called on him for mowing his own yard?

      1. John Hobbs

         

        I have substantial anecdotal evidence that some counties and cities (Yolo, Placer, Davis and Roseville for example) are much more likely to stop drivers of color

        ” I still don’t understand what anything you have said has anything to do with filing false police reports on Black and Brown people.”

        So it is off-topic and should be excised, but the report button doesn’t seem to apply to some chronically off-topic commenters.

  7. Chris Griffith

    Filing a false police report in the great state of California is a misdemeanor and you can get up to six months in jail. What does this so-called new law have that is better than the current law? Will an individual get a longer prison sentence will it be a felony? The only reason why this is on the table is because a bunch of state legislators want to be part of the me-too movement. you know how hard it’s going to be to prove that somebody filed a false police report which is virtually impossible. Under the current law how many people have been prosecuted filing a false police report in a past year in the great state of California 😊

  8. Chris Griffith

    Here we are everybody in the state of California wants to defund the cops but yet we’re making more laws more complicated how you going to enforce the laws we currently have let alone their ones where are you going to draw the line?

  9. Don Shor

    here is another new law that the police will be expected to enforce. 

    I am not understanding how this would cause increased police time. It’s a charging issue. The police were already called in the instances cited. If anything, with sufficient public awareness of this law, there might be less of these false police reports which only serve to waste the police officers’ time. In other cases, the DA might choose to charge the person who did the call.

    1. Chris Griffith

      We already have laws in place for making false 911 calls and besides someone can also file a civil suit against this individual if this crime  so egregious  I believe everyone already knows it’s against the law to make a false 911 call and to your point about the DA yeah she or he could file charges but when an investigator from the DA’s office would also have to follow up with that and that costs money and also time. What’s the teeth to this law? how many millions of years is this individual filing a false police report going to receive?  How many yuppie bucks are they going to have to pay. I’m kind of miffed on how you’re going to prove someone made bogus call to 911 that in itself very hard to prove.

      How pervasive is this problem currently?

      1. David Greenwald

        I guess several questions:

        1. How often does it happen? We are hearing lot of stories about calling the police while black – before the Cooper incident, so it was a thing.
        2. How often is enforced? I can tell you in ten years of covering the courts, I can’t remember a filing false reports case.
        3. Is the penalty sufficient? Remember one of the problems here is that false reports can have serious repercussions – I have several wrongful cases based on false reports, I know of several police brutality cases based on them.

        Those are my thoughts.

        1. Chris Griffith

          In reference to point number three. Police brutality accusations based on false police reports if that is true that officer and that agency is open for huge civil liabilities so therefore I don’t know if a no law really help that problem because if a police officer is going to go to that extent I believe the only way to stop them would be through civil liability for a huge amount of money.😁

      1. Chris Griffith

        I have honestly tried to search the internet about false 911 claims and false police reports and I haven’t found any so that’s why I’m kind of questioning why we need a new and improved law. I am of the belief that for every new law we make we should take 2 away. I think that should go hand-in-hand with defunding law enforcement.

        1. John Hobbs

          “I have honestly tried to search the internet about false 911 claims and false police reports and I haven’t found any”

          Get a new search engine.

          Google search: “About 12,700,000 results (0.48 seconds) ”

          Bing: “71,900,000 results”

  10. Chris Griffith

    Thank you very much for helping me find information 😊.

    Yep I can see we got a whole lot of stupid white people out there. But with a population of over 328 million people in the United Statesand let’s see we have a thousand really stupid white people in all 50 states I don’t know if that warrants having a new law in the great state of California understandably we have more stupid people in California so let’s say we have 200 of them does that warrant a new law. In my humble opinion no it doesn’t

    I must say I really enjoy the articles that you guys post on the Davis vanguard. Keep up the good work.

      1. Chris Griffith

        I wonder if the author or authors might have some data on that particular subject and I wonder how readily accessible those authors might be to ask that question

  11. Keith Olsen

    Just learned that another fake racist accusation can be added to the list.

    Nascar’s black driver Bubba Watson claimed a noose was found in his garage which resulted in a huge outpouring of support from other drivers and their teams.

    Except it was fake, just a garage door pulldown rope.

    “The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime,” NASCAR said in a statement Tuesday. “The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall.”

    https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/noose-bubba-wallaces-garage-since-232445187.html

      1. Keith Olsen

        I see where Bubba Wallace is still insisting it was a noose on the Don Lemon show.

        Sorry Bubba, sometimes a noose is just a garage door pull down rope.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Actually, KO… it could be both… I could easily tie a “hangman’s noose” with 3/16″, 1/4″ cord… would actually make a good handle (grasp) for a garage door pull… might just make me one, for ‘funsies’… hadn’t occurred to me… until all the fuss.  It is a very stable knot, like a taut-line hitch… usually takes two hands to tighten or loosen.

  12. Chris Griffith

    It appears that the illustrious mayor of Oakland has solved the fake police report problem. Her way of fixing the problem just you reinvent the police department and just have everyone be a social worker with no guns obviously. I think it’s going to get pretty Western in the city of Oakland.

    My humble opinion if you don’t own a gun you better go buy one now because it sure looks like you might need it. And for all you liberals to don’t believe in guns good luck.

    1. Alan Miller

      My humble opinion if you don’t own a gun you better go buy one now because it sure looks like you might need it.

      Good idea.  I think if there is one thing that everyone in Davis can agree on, it’s that Alan Miller with a gun is a great idea for the future of Davis.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Actually, Alan, you having a gun is fine with me.  Bullets/ammo is another matter… remember, “guns don’t kill people, ammo does”…

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