Berkeley Pledges to Refund the Police While Also Embracing Law Enforcement Alternatives and Violence Prevention

Berkeley leaders are jumping back into the debate about crime and policing nearly two years after councilmembers called for defunding law enforcement, but this time the political landscape is different.

City councilmembers want to divert more nonviolent 911 calls from police and fund more violence prevention programs, but they’re also pledging to add more police officers, citing pressure from constituents worried about violent crime. A similar debate is playing out in Oakland and San Francisco.

On Thursday, the City Council approved Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s $5.3 million plan to fund more efforts to reimagine public safety and reform the police. The city will now expand violence prevention programs and kick off a process to create more police alternatives to respond to mental health calls. At the same time, the council also agreed to restore 30 of the police department’s frozen positions — a move pushed by several councilmembers.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín called the vote an “important milestone” and said that Berkeley can be a model for other cities.

“A lot of the conversation nationally has been focused on ‘defunding’ or abolishing or cutting the police department,” said Arreguín, who was a big proponent of cutting the department’s budget two years ago. “We refunded and we also expressed support for other approaches. We found a balance.”

The votes come nearly two years after Berkeley made headlines when leaders pledged to slash the police department’s budget in half.

In fact, the city ended up cutting about 12% of its police budget by freezing 30 positions. At the time, all city departments were required to find cost-saving measures because of pandemic deficits. The department accounts for nearly 40% of the city’s general fund with a nearly $73 million budget that will grow to about $80 million in the next fiscal year. The department currently has about 150 filled positions.

City leaders in Berkeley and Oakland say that police should focus more on violent crime and that most of their time is taken up with low-level calls. One way to free up officers — and potentially cut down on racial disparities in policing — is to move traffic enforcement away from cops. More than a year ago, Berkeley approved a plan for sweeping law enforcement reforms, including changes to traffic stops, but some of the plan has been stymied by limitations in state law.

While councilmembers said they feel pressure from constituents worried about violent crime, there isn’t a clear increase in homicides. Berkeley has recorded two homicides this year compared to none last year and five in 2020. Still, council members said Thursday they received nearly 900 emails from constituents urging them to hire more cops.

Dan Lindheim, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and a member of the city’s reimagine task force, said Thursday’s debate focused too much on police staffing.

“If this is the net result of a reimagining process in which Berkeley seems to be interested in reducing the footprint of policing, to fully fund the police seems like a bizarre result,” he said.

In parts of the East Bay, violent crime has disproportionately impacted Black and brown neighborhoods. Councilmembers in Oakland and Berkeley who represent those areas have called for more police. Council Member Terry Taplin, who represents part of South Berkeley, said a homicide occurred in his district earlier this week and that he’s tired of being lectured by “more privileged communities” that aren’t facing the same safety concerns.

Taplin told The Chronicle gun violence has impacted him personally. He said he’s had friends, cousins and loved ones murdered and so he’s “really eyeing these proposals with a lot of scrutiny.”

“How does keeping our police positions frozen improve my ability to protect my residents?” Taplin said.

Taplin ended up voting for the mayor’s proposal after Arreguín added several amendments that committed to restaffing the police department and allocated more funding to a new department of Office of Race, Equity and Diversity to study disparities in all city departments. The city manager will bring a proposal to the council to restore the positions over the next few weeks.

Berkeley is already working to launch a team of social workers and civilians — run by a nonprofit — to respond to some mental health and homelessness calls, part of a Bay Area trend to launch alternative policing teams of unarmed civilians. But the mayor’s plan approved Thursday would create a new office of community safety to eventually house the city’s different police alternatives.

Arreguín said the city’s efforts to rethink policing has been slow and methodical on purpose.

“Some cities have rushed into making decisions, some have backed away from reimagining,” he said. “We’ve taken our time and really given this serious thought.”

Arreguín said his plan lays out a framework for how “reimagining public safety” priorities can be implemented.

The city will also begin transitioning two aspects of traffic enforcement — collision analysis and crossing guards — from the police department to public works.

Arreguín’s proposal also commits funds to violence prevention and youth services among other programs and directs city staff to explore creating a team of unarmed community mediators.

The City Council will have to vote next month on how to fund Arreguín’s proposal, which will take several years to fully implement.

Still, not all councilmembers were on board. Council Members Lori Droste and Rashi Kesarwani voted against the mayor’s proposal.

Click here to read the full article at SF Chronicle

Hundreds Turn Out To Honor HB Officer Nicholas Vella At Honda Center Memorial Service

Hundreds of police officers from all over California gathered at the Honda Center in Anaheim today to honor their fallen comrade Nicholas Vella, the Huntington Beach police officer who died in the line of duty on February 19 when the HBPD helicopter he was flying crashed offshore in Newport Beach.

The nearly four-hour memorial service was a homage to Officer Vella’s character, love of family, devotion to law enforcement and community, given by his family and fellow officers.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Orange, Kevin Vann, presided over the memorial service inside the Honda Center. Vella was eulogized by a procession of family and fellow officers.

One of Vella’s friends and fellow officer, Francisco Jimenez, told the assembled throng how Vella always “sticking up for the little guy, the underdog.”

“Nick hated bullies and wanted to protect those who were not able to protect themselves. Protecting people was in Nick’s DNA, and he loved helping others,” said Jimenez. “So it’s easy to see why Nick decided to take the path that he did.”

A common theme in every eulogy was Vella’s smile.

“Every time you saw him, he had this infectious smile on his face,” recalled Jimenez. “That smile, that little smirk with those sad puppy dog eyes, looking at you that smile that I can’t get out of my head. And I will never forget.”

READ: Huntington Beach Police Chopper Crashes In Water In Newport; One Officer Dead, Another Seriously Injured

Vella’s father-in-law, Ron Tovar, spoke of how Vella changed his family when he married Tovar’s daughter Kristi.

“When he came into our family, he just changed our family. It became different. Right away, he became a stable pillar,” said Tovar. “He always just had this peaceful thing about him. He showed us by way of his actions and his deeds. He demonstrated honesty, integrity and patience.”

Tovar talked about Vella’s special devotion to his teenage daughter Dylan, and what he did, few days before his death, to make Valentine’s Day special for her.

“He went to Dylan’s school and stood there in the parking lot with a rose. To give to Dylan,” said Tovar. “I wish I would have thought of that when my kids were in school. But how heartfelt. How loving. How caring.”

Read the full article at the OC Independent

California Is Swimming In Money. How Will Gavin Newsom Spend California’s Budget Surplus?

For the second year in a row, California’s budget is poised to avoid economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Gov. Gavin Newsom with a good problem: how to spend a projected $31 billion surplus.

By Monday, Newsom must unveil his proposal for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which starts July 1. His proposal will kick off months of negotiations with lawmakers, who face a June 15 deadline to pass a budget.

Analysts predict the state’s highest earners will continue to prosper and pay high taxes, resulting in another big surplus. The budget Newsom signed last summer included a projected $80 billion surplus, which allowed lawmakers to provide COVID-19 relief and send stimulus checks to millions of Californians.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has recommended that lawmakers appropriate no more than $3 to $8 billion in new ongoing spending, and use the rest on one-time expenses that won’t force cuts in the future when there’s less cash available. The office also advocated for lawmakers to add to reserve accounts in anticipation of leaner budget years in the future.

Newsom has said he wants to use most of the extra money for one-time spending on areas including budget reserves, pension debt and the social safety net. He has also suggested more stimulus checks could be on the table.

“I think that’s the approach: fiscally disciplined, recognizing this is not a permanent state, recognizing the one-time nature of most of these dollars,” Newsom said in November.

MORE POLICE FUNDING

In November, after a spate of high-profile retail thefts, Newsom announced that his 2022 budget proposal will “substantially” increase funding for cities to crack down on organized retail crime.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who leads the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety, said she thinks addressing retail theft makes sense, but wants to see specifics.

“We need to do something to deter those crimes and hold people accountable,” the Bell Gardens Democrat said. “I want to see the details and see that the funding is used effectively and not just padding departments.”

She said she also wants to see more money in the budget to change a culture of hazing in California prisons.

Last year, The Bee reported on two California State Prison-Sacramento officers who died after reporting harassment, hazing and corruption by their colleagues. One officer’s death was ruled a suicide. The other died of a fentanyl overdose. Since then, the state has moved to fire two officers and discipline 10 other employees at the prison.

Garcia also pointed to the case of a prisoner who was tortured and beheaded by his cellmate, which officers failed to report for hours.

“Breaking the law and being in jail shouldn’t be a death sentence,” Garcia said. “Being an officer shouldn’t be a death sentence either.”

MORE MONEY FOR SCHOOLS

Newsom intends to steer more money toward screenings for dyslexia and add more funding for early education, he told The Sacramento Bee in an interview last month. Newsom has dyslexia and wrote a book last year inspired by his struggle to read because of the condition.

He said his proposal will aim to help kids who “start behind.”

“We did a lot more last year than we did the prior year, and this year’s budget’s gonna see a hell of a lot more, forgive my language,” he said. He also said he wants to expand literacy programs through First 5, a state program for kids under 5.

Click here to read the full article at the Sacramento Bee

Hundreds of San Diego Police Officers Unvaccinated as City prepares To Impose Mandate

The city plans to send notices of termination to employees who are not in compliance

SAN DIEGO — Brandon Gibson knows just how serious COVID-19 is. He beat back the disease two months ago.

“It kicked my butt,” he said. Yet he quit the San Diego police force earlier this month after 10 years because he is not ready to get the vaccine, an imminent condition of employment for city workers.

“I am not an anti-vaxer,” Gibson, 45, said in a recent interview.

He appreciates science, he said, but he has concerns about serious side effects — which health officials say are rare — and doesn’t agree with the city’s mandate.

People rallied against a vaccine mandate for law enforcement officers and firefighters at San Diego’s Civic Center Plaza on Oct. 22.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“It’s really infringing on our freedoms,” he said. “It’s my body; it’s my choice.”

So he quit.

Whether Gibson will be an outlier among the San Diego Police Department’s 1,982 rank-and-file officers will soon be evident. Wednesday is the deadline for all city employees to show proof of vaccination or request a religious or medical exemption.

According to city figures, around 60 percent of officers were vaccinated as of Nov. 17.

Mayor Todd Gloria on Monday will ask the City Council to move forward with the mandate, which the city announced in late August, despite an impasse with the San Diego Police Officers Association over the requirements.

Click here to read the full article at the San Diego-Union Tribune

Black Friday ‘Flash Mob’ Robberies Put LAPD on Tactical Alert

Los Angeles police late Friday were on citywide tactical alert after a wave of smash-and-grab “flash mob” robberies at high-end stores.

And in Lakewood, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives were investigating a possible smash-and-grab robbery at a Home Depot after people stormed into the store Friday night and fled with sledgehammers and bolt cutters, according to authorities and a store employee.

The Los Angeles Police Department declared the alert around 8:30 p.m. Friday and lifted it at 2 a.m. Saturday. The alert followed a string of robberies in the area early in the evening, including an incident at 5:30 p.m. in which at least 10 men robbed a store at 130 S. La Brea Ave., pushed employees onto the ground and fled, said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez.

Lopez said that another attempted robbery on La Brea Avenue around 5:30 p.m. ended with an employee being sprayed with some kind of chemical agent, and another robbery was carried out at gunpoint in the 7800 block of Melrose Avenue.

Los Angeles police also took three people into custody Friday afternoon in the area of Melrose Avenue and Gardner Street after pulling over a vehicle for a traffic violation and spotting clothing with security tags “in plain sight,” connected to another theft, Lopez said.

Friday’s tactical alert follows a series of robberies in which groups have swooped in on stores across Los Angeles — including a Nordstrom at the Grove shopping center and several stores at the Beverly Center in the Beverly Grove neighborhood — and fled with thousands of dollars in merchandise.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the incident at Nordstrom on Tuesday, where as many as 20 people stole $5,000 worth of merchandise after smashing a display window, police said.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Inside a Weekly Crime Briefing at the LAPD

In the middle of Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore’s command-level crime briefing Monday, Police Commissioner Dale Bonner — who was sitting in on the closed-door meeting — chimed in with a question.

Bonner was looking at printouts of crime figures and wasn’t sure whether the percentages in red ink reflected increases over 2020, when killings and shootings were already elevated, or 2019, before violence spiked in Los Angeles and cities across the country.

Moore made it clear: The increases — including a 17% rise in homicides — were over the 2020 figures. Compared with 2019, Moore said, the uptick was even starker.

“They’re compounding,” Moore said of city killings. “Homicides are up 17%, and people will say, ‘Well, many other cities are actually higher.’ But when we look over a two-year period, they’re up 49%.”

Each Monday, Moore convenes a small group on the 10th floor of LAPD headquarters downtown to go over the latest trends in city crime. The briefing gives Moore a better idea of where the department is making progress, he said, and where it is losing ground.

After a decade of success in driving down violent crime such as killings and shootings, Moore and the others in the room have seen the progress fade away since last year, with more and more red ink on their printouts. The latest briefing, which Moore allowed The Times to observe, offered no reprieve.

Walking into the room, each commander — including Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala, who oversees operations in the department’s four bureaus; Assistant Chief Robert Marino, who oversees special operations; and Moore’s chief of staff, Deputy Chief Daniel Randolph — received charts breaking down crime by geographic area and over time. They also got statistics on crime the department has deemed gang-related, crime linked to the homeless population and crime linked to domestic violence — three categories that have seen upticks in recent years.

Atop their packets was a four-page “Talking Points” document, the first line of which calculated killings.

“There were 10 homicides this past week vs. 3 for the same week last year,” it read.

At the bottom of the page were statistics on shootings. There had been 1,202 shooting victims this year as of the morning briefing, an increase of nearly 20% over the 1,007 at the same point in 2020 and nearly 50% over the 802 at the same point in 2019.

Click here to read full article from LA Times

Assembly Passes Stricter Police Use-of-Force Bill

For the second year in a row, a sweeping police reform measure that law-enforcement organizations said was motivated by antipathy toward peace officers has been embraced by the state Legislature.

Last year lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1421 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. It required police agencies to release information on officer discipline records – treating these records the same as many others that are routinely released to the public under government openness laws. California’s police disclosure rules previously had been among the strictest in the nation.

This year, Assembly Bill 392, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, appears headed for passage after being approved 67-0 by the Assembly on Wednesday. It says officers may only use lethal force if it is “necessary” for public safety. Existing law says officers can use such force if they believe it is “reasonable” to ensure public safety. While provisions in Assembly Bill 392 were dropped to persuade law enforcement organizations to end their opposition and take a neutral stand – as they did last week – the ACLU says the bill will create among the strictest use-of-force standards of any state.

These organizations were lobbied by Gov. Gavin Newsom to accept Assembly Bill 392. After their decision to go neutral was announced, Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins issued a joint statement endorsing Weber’s bill, seemingly guaranteeing its eventual approval.

The passage of the two reform measures would have been impossible to imagine earlier this century. Law enforcement unions had tight relationships with most elected Democrats, the same as with unions for teachers, nurses, service workers and government bureaucrats, providing them with heavy campaign contributions.

Gov. Gray Davis’ 2001 decision to give prison guards a five-year, 37 percent raise after its union helped him get elected in 1998 drew sharp blow-back from good-government advocates and newspaper editorial boards, especially after the 2003 revelationthat Davis had badly underestimated the long-term cost of the labor deal. It was among the issues that helped lead to his unprecedented recall later that year.

2004 CHP scandal downplayed by state leaders

But the clout of law enforcement was again on display a year later. In 2004, the Sacramento Bee broke the story of a pervasive workers’ compensation scam in the upper reaches of the California Highway Patrol. The Bee found that 55 of the 65 senior CHP officers who had retired since 2000 had filed workers’ comp claims – with some citing injuries never reported while they were on the job. Their disability claims were routinely approved, sharply increasing their retirement benefits.

CHP Commissioner Dwight “Spike” Helmick agreed to retire after the “Chiefs Disease” scandal broke, then added to it by also claiming he was disabled because of vehicle accidents in the 1970s and 1980s. But neither the Legislature or Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – who courted and won law enforcement support – agreed with calls to bring in an outside reformer to run the agency. Instead, Schwarzenegger chose Mike Brown, one of Helmick’s top aides.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer declined to prosecute the case, citing conflicts of interest because of his office’s close ties to the CHP. The case was assigned to Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully. But in 2007, she closed the investigation without bringing any charges. Scully said CHP officials and former officials were “unable or unwilling” to testify about the pension-spiking scheme. The story faded from the headlines.

But ties between lawmakers and police unions have weakened since then as the national outcry has grown over alleged police mistreatment of minorities, especially a series of fatal shootings of young African-American men in questionable circumstances. The California Democratic Party has also had an influx of newly elected progressive lawmakers who dislike the aggressive, confrontational policing style adopted by many departments after it was credited with reducing crime in New York City in the 1990s under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Recent analyses of how Assembly Bill 392 overcame the obstacles that doomed a similar bill last year have focused on the March 2018 fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black father of two, in Sacramento.

The announcement two months ago that no officer would face charges for Clark’s death triggered an outcry so intense it became a national and international story that appeared to give Weber’s bill new momentum.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Police Cannot Police in Liberal California


Police tapeCalifornia’s political dysfunction is directly responsible for making the state unaffordable for middle class families. The so-called “housing crisis,” the most visible and harmful manifestation of California’s unaffordability, is precisely the result of California’s policymakers inviting the welfare cases of America and the expatriates of the world to move here, at the same time as they’ve enacted environmental policies that make it extremely time consuming and expensive to build anything.

There is a parallel dysfunction in California, also entirely the creation of the political elites who run this state. That is the near impossibility of efficiently policing the state. Members of law enforcement contend with powerful transnational gangs, often sheltered from arrest by sanctuary laws. They contend with burgeoning populations of the homeless that now dominate some of California’s most cherished public spaces. How many of these homeless would find refuge with families or friends if laws didn’t prevent vagrancy enforcement? How many of them would find entry level jobs to pay a living wage if laws hadn’t made housing prohibitively expensive?

And then there are the common criminals, to be found everywhere, and bound to be numerous in a state with over 40 million residents. Here too, in the fight against ordinary crime, thanks to “progressive” state legislation, law enforcement in California fights an uphill battle.

The turning point in California’s progressive assault on law enforcement was the passage of Prop. 47 in November 2014. Supported by nearly all Democratic politicians, a smattering of naive libertarians, the ACLU, and several unions including AFSCME and SEIU California, this ballot initiative was misleadingly marketed as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.”

Ostensibly to empty the jails of expensively housed “nonviolent” offenders, unintended consequences were felt immediately. Over four years later, the negative consequences of Prop. 47 continue to compound and intensify.

Here are some of the impacts of Prop. 47:

  • Freed tens of thousands of felons from state prisons and county jails back into communities.
  • Reduced to misdemeanors the personal use of (or being under the influence of) most illegal drugs including heroin and methamphetamine.
  • Reduced to misdemeanors any crime where the value of property stolen doesn’t exceed $950. This includes shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, and fraud.

Downgrading drug and property crimes has led to what police derisively refer to as “catch and release,” because suspects are just issued citations with a court date, and let go. Many of them don’t show up for their court dates. Habitual offenders know they’re no longer vulnerable to the “three strikes” statutes. They know that even repeated misdemeanor convictions are unlikely to land them in jail for very long. Even the liberal Washington Post reported on the impact of Prop. 47 as “A ‘virtual get-out-of-jail-free card’

California’s generous welfare and inviting sanctuary policies, combined with unaffordable housing and the most forgiving winter climate in America, mean a large homeless population is inevitable. Prop. 47, which releases inmates from prison at the same time as it makes it harder to incarcerate new offenders, inevitably adds rather than decreases the total population of California’s homeless. Recent estimates put the number of homeless in California at nearly 140,000, with the largest number, approximately 55,000, in Los Angeles County.

The concentration of homeless in Los Angeles isn’t just because it is the largest city in the state. It’s also because in 2006, the notoriously liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Jones v. City of Los Angeles ruled that law enforcement and city officials can no longer enforce the ban on sleeping on sidewalks anywhere within the Los Angeles city limits until a sufficient amount of “permanent supportive housing” could be built. And as the city bureaucrats fitfully apply grant funds that apparently can’t construct a basic apartment for much less than a half-million each, police are forced to permit massive and permanent homeless encampments which have become havens for criminals of all kinds.

Policing has become tough everywhere in California. As if the fallout from Prop. 47 and rulings such as Jones v. City of Los Angeles aren’t bad enough, now there’s something new, the “The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015.” This law, supposedly intended to address dubious claims, especially in California, of discriminatory policing, has made it even more difficult for police to do their jobs. Each year, police departments are now required to submit to the State of California an annual report of their “stop data.” The following table, drawn from this report, shows the “Officer Reporting Requirements.”

When it comes to the practical effect of AB 953, it’s hard to find anything good. Every single time they interact with a citizen, for whatever reason, officers have to input 17 variables into a form that is either paper (four pages, requiring reentry into a database), or onto a tablet, cell phone, or in-car laptop. The mere fact that this is a time consuming process will prevent a police officer from making as many stops during a normal shift, and may deter them from even making some stops. Worse, the data collected is designed to either prove or disprove that officers in any given police department are stopping a disproportionate number of citizens who are members of “protected status groups.” Needless to say, officers, and their departments, may become reluctant to exceed their “quotas,” and as a result have an incentive to not make stops when stops are warranted.

This sort of meddling in the day to day actions of police officers does not serve the community, and it is demoralizing to officers. And it is important to emphasize that this focus on trying to prove that a disproportionate number of, say, African American, or Latinos, or other “people of color” are being “profiled,” has little or nothing to do with appropriate police oversight. There are over a million sworn police officers in the United States. It is statistically impossible for a population of individuals that large to not have a few bad apples. For this reason, and others, police tactics and police oversight should constantly evolve, and they do. That’s a good thing. But laws like AB 953, which pressure police into bringing their “stops” into conformance with ethnic and religious quotas, ignore the disproportionate reality of crime statistics, and further tie the hands of law enforcement.

California is ran by a progressive elite who have decided to sacrifice the aspirations of ordinary residents on the altar of utopian dreams. It’s not working, but they’re doubling down, and at this point there’s no end in sight.

The laws they’ve passed in virtually all areas make it harder for individual Californians to succeed. Astronomical costs for housing and tuition. Utility and gasoline prices that are the highest in the nation, and unaffordable to many. Regressive, often embedded taxes that make everything more expensive, from food to telephone bills. Then on top of that, laws that make California a magnet for welfare recipients and undocumented immigrants; laws that create an exploding population of homeless; laws that release thousands of criminals onto the streets. All of this makes crime more likely.

The last thing California’s lawmakers should be doing is making it harder for police to police. But that’s exactly what they’ve done. Things may have to get much worse, before they get better.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

California police unions are preparing to battle new transparency law in the courtroomc


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The Fredericksburg, Va. Police Department has introduced the use portable video camera devices worn by all on-duty officers. The Taser Axon Flex is the product in use. (Copyright, Robert A. Martin/Freelance)

Just as a landmark police transparency law is going into effect, some California police agencies are shredding internal affairs documents and law enforcement unions are rushing to block the information from being released.

The new law, which begins to unwind California’s strictest-in-the-nation protections over the secrecy of law enforcement records, opens to the public internal investigations of officer shootings and other major uses of force, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty. But the lawsuits and records destruction, which began even before the law took effect Jan. 1, could tie up the release of information for months or years, and in some instances, prevent it from ever being disclosed.

“The fact that police unions are challenging this law is on some level not surprising,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, one of the principal supporters of the new law. “They have a long history of fighting tooth and nail against transparency.”

Before this year, the public couldn’t access police disciplinary records outside of a courtroom. The same prohibitions, which were first put into place four decades ago after a push from police unions, applied to prosecutors as well. California was the only state in the nation where that was the case. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Is Anything Off-Limits for California’s Police Unions?


Police tapeA few weeks ago the Costa Mesa Police Association (read: Police Union) and their former law firm agreed to pay $607,000 to settle a lawsuit after their scheme against two Costa Mesa city councilmen came to light.

As I wrote in my book, this settlement represents a small but important victory in the broader philosophical war between California’s public employee unions’ unquenchable demand for more and the handful of public officials willing to stand and say there is simply no more to give. This result should also give hope to public officials across the state who have been at the pointy-end of the public employee unions’ so-called “advocacy” during labor negotiations or an election cycle.

The plot that eventually led to the settlement sounds like the set-up for a Don Winslow novel, but everything you are about to read is true.

On August 22, 2012 a private investigator, Chris Lanzillo, who was employed by the police union’s law firm was tailing the two councilmen in hopes of digging up dirt for use against them in the upcoming November city council elections.

The two Costa Mesa city councilmen were in the police union’s cross-hairs because they were trying to cut-back public employee pensions and benefits. The city had a $5.1 million budget deficit that year, and the offending proposal reduced retirees’ pensions from 90 percent of their salary at age 50 to a mere 81 percent of their pay at 55. That same year, Costa Mesa had 99 employees who earned more than $200,000.  …

Click here to read the full article from Townhall