By Dylan Ferguson
SACRAMENTO – Following the tragic death of George Floyd and other Black Americans this summer at the hands of police, Gov. Gavin Newsom used this as momentum to, as he said Wednesday, “fix our oversight and accountability as it relates to policing in this state.”
In a series of signings midweek, AB 1196, the first bill that was signed on the livestream, focuses on ensuring that officers use other methods to restrain people being arrested, specifically restricting chokeholds or other extreme measures.
Assemblymember Mike Gipson recalls that on June 5, not long after George Floyd was killed because of police use of excessive force, Gov. Newsom said that “if a bill banning these restraints got to his desk, he would sign (it).”
And he did so Wednesday, pledging, “We’re just getting started.”
AB 1506, the second bill that was signed, is known as “the deadly force accountability act,” and places responsibility on officers who kill victims who are unarmed, creates mandatory independent reviews or investigations, and tasks the attorney general to focus on police practices.
It was Assemblymember Kevin McCarty’s third try to get this bill passed—he used an analogy of how unfair baseball would be if the umpire were actually a member of one of the teams playing. This describes law enforcement today, McCarty said, noting that “there is too much distrust” with police policing themselves.
The final bill passed today was a last-minute addition. The “oversight” bill became a law as a reward of McCarty’s sensitivity to the concerns and willingness to work with the governor’s office.
Essentially, this measure creates taxpayer oversight for the sheriff’s department. In police departments in cities such as Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, sheriffs have the ability to ignore oversight commissions, but after Wednesday that will no longer be an issue.
In Sacramento, Sheriff Scott Jones actually locked out an independent inspector general—a former Sacramento police chief—when the IG made comments the sheriff didn’t like about a police killing.
Gov. Newsom expressed gratitude throughout the livestream and stated that he believes the bills “meet the moment” and that “there is a lot more work to do in this space.”
To end the call, as indicated, he assured the listeners that “we’re just getting started” and there is so much work going on behind the scenes which will continue to push the state forward.
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