I have written about and discussed the notion that it takes just one person to misuse the law for public trust to erode and just one person to stand up to unjust actions to inspire change. The shooting and killing of Dijon Kizzee, Anthony Weber, and Andres Guardado by individual officers has further raised concerns and anger over the police culture, training, and interaction with people of color. Adversely, an individual took to violence against two sheriff deputies this past weekend seriously injuring both officers.
The growing angst and social frustration are palatable, and coalitions of Black and Brown nonprofits have been formed to protest police brutality and systemic issues within law enforcement departments.
These issues, unfortunately, are not new.
Even the mere perception that law enforcement is untruthful, behaving unethically, or breaking the law is ruinous to the trust a community must have in officers to support effective policing and promote public safety.
It has been said that sunshine is the best disinfectant. We must shine a light on what we know to be troublesome areas and truths.
Communities of color have had difficult relations with law enforcement for decades but the shooting of officers, and unjustified shootings of citizens by officers, cannot and must not be tolerated. Lives are lost, or forever changed, because of unnecessary and unjustified violence.
On the flip side, a majority of officers who wake up each day knowing they are putting everything on the line to provide us with a livable and safe community have been mixed-in with the bad “apples” and the public’s blanket of distrust has engulfed them. This too much change.
Law enforcement shootings have led to protests and protesters have a right to be outraged and voice their concerns.
There is an opportunity now to bring real reform because everyone wants to get to a new level of proper and engaged community policing that involves the public’s input on how law enforcement must interact with communities of color and what reforms are needed to get there.
As Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, I am committed to a number of reforms to help restore public trust and remove those in law enforcement who violate the law.
Protecting whistle blowers from retaliation and adding new informant protections, can promote increased departmental transparency and change the culture within law enforcement departments.
Additionally, it is clear there is a need for Civilian Oversight Commissions that include open conversations between department officials, the Inspector General and community leaders.
Furthermore, I will push for policy that disallows bad cops the ability to pick up and move to another department after being released/fired for questionable actions while on duty.
By implementing these changes, we can support the rebuilding of public trust in law enforcement and uplift the positive actions of those officers who daily choose to serve their communities and stay true to their oath to serve and protect.
I will call to action stakeholders in the coming weeks to help drive these needed changes.
I encourage you to be mindful of the evolving and transitioning nature of policing policies and to be involved in this evolution. I welcome all members of our community to work with my office to develop new policies.
Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the communities of Huntington Park, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park and South Los Angeles.