By Pavan Potti
SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco District Attorney Chelsea Boudin has been actively promoting Assembly Bill 767, a measure sponsored by Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-North Bay), which would allow for victims of police brutality and their families to receive forms of compensation that would cover unaffordable expenses that can’t be paid with health insurance.
Additionally, if the bill is approved, the victims of police crimes, which have been disproportionately people of color, won’t have to get approval from law enforcement officers to qualify for compensation, putting them in the same category as victims of any other crime.
This would prove most beneficial in situations where law enforcement officers are at fault, mostly because these officers are highly likely to under-exaggerate the force they used in cases of illegal force usage.
The process of getting the ball passed, however, has been met with obstacles. One recent study by the Senate Appropriations Committee overstated that the proposed bill would increase victim compensation costs by more than 200 percent.
Another report by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, while stating that the bill would increase compensation costs by only five percent, claimed that if the bill were approved, the number of victim compensation cases from police brutality would greatly increase.
In a statement regarding the bill’s current situation, Boudin’s office expressed disappointment and emphasized the disadvantage of victims.
The statement asserts that the information surrounding the bill is swarming from the same law enforcement unions which are supporting the very same police officers exhibiting excessive and unnecessary force during duty. Police unions have also displayed no support for the bill.
Boudin emphasized that the “government is responsible” for taking care of the victims and ensuring that they receive compensation for unlawful police behavior. Boudin said the need for the measure is “very urgent.”
According to Chesa Boudin’s office, and he is one of the chief proponents of the bill, there is considerable resistance to the bill from law enforcement unions.
They believe the Senate Appropriations Committee report on the bill’s cost grossly overestimated its fiscal impact, claiming the bill would increase victims’ compensation claim costs by over 200 percent.
Instead, they argue, other estimates, such as one conducted by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, suggest that the bill would actually increase the costs for victims’ compensation claims by only 5 percent.
“My office recently implemented an internal policy to ensure that some of our most vulnerable victims— victims of law enforcement officers, the people entrusted to keep us safe—are compensated for medical fees, funeral expenses, and burial costs that result from police abuse,” said Chesa Boudin whose office has spearheaded support of this bill. “This need is so urgent that four current and former elected prosecutors have rallied together, calling on the California Victim Compensation Board to provide that same coverage to victims of police violence statewide.”
Boudin continued: “These victims are disproportionately people of color and have been harmed by the government; they deserve the government’s support to recover from the harm.”
He added: “It is therefore tremendously disappointing to see the police unions lining up in opposition to this legislation. Relying on misinformation from the law enforcement unions— who protect those same officers who use excessive force—is connected to the very problem this legislation seeks to address. We can and we must compensate those who are hurt by police.”
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