A few weeks ago, I again took a trip to California to see my mother, sons and their families and one of my sisters. I stopped by the Long Beach Police Officers Association, (LBPOA). I had been the Vice President, Secretary and a Board member for some 12 years. I spoke with the current President, who is the son of one of my training officers. He told me about some of the problems facing law enforcement in California because of that state's politicians' anti-police political climate.
After I returned home, my copy of the LBPOA Rap Sheet arrived a few days later. I found that the President's Message had reiterated what we had spoken about. My heart goes out to those law enforcement officers in California who must live with the asinine laws proposed and implemented by corrupt and/or imbecilic state and local politicians.
A major expense for the Long Beach Police Department, and probably all agencies in the state, is the result of Assembly Bill 953 By January 1, 2019, almost all of the officers will be issued Apple iPhones. The phones will be issued because, starting on that date, officers will be required to answer up to 43 questions on every person they either detain or search. This law requires the departments to collect this data. This “data collection” will keep officers out of service for a much longer period of time. It is likely to greatly impede field investigations where time is of the essence.
Honest citizens and taxpayers will bear the consequences of this new law. The response time for peoples' calls for police services will take longer. Proactive police work will diminish because more time will be spent answering the required questions. Who will reap the benefits of Assembly Bill 953? Criminals will have more time to ply their trade since police officers will be out of service answering inane questions. Politicians who pander to so-called progressive constituents will be able to tout about how they have put a dent in “racial profiling” by law enforcement and the bureaucrats who process the data, will have enhanced job security.
Among the 20 or so proposed laws that the law enforcement community is closely monitoring, is a real beauty of an anti-police bill. AB 931. For at least decades, officers have been judged by the criteria of what a “reasonable” officer was aware of at the time of an officer involved shooting. AB 931 changes the legal parameters. Officers could be judged and found criminally liable based on facts known after the shooting. This alters the whole relationship between law enforcement officers, the government and the people they serve.
This brought to mind a discussion I had with a couple of young officers when I was on the LBPOA's negotiation team, when we were negotiating with the city for a new contract. One of the officers, who did not like the city's proposal, stated his opinion that we should strike. I told him that there were two very good reasons not to go on strike. First, when we became police officers, we took an oath that pretty much precluded us from striking. So we either stood by our word or we didn't. Second, we enjoyed a great deal of public support and that would evaporate if we went on strike.
I pointed to the historical precedent of the Boston Police strike in 1919. The little known governor of Massachusetts, Calvin Coolidge, became a national figure when he and the Boston Police Commissioner brought in troops and stopped the anarchy that the police strike precipitated. Coolidge's phrase, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” caught on. The striking police officers not only lost the strike, but their jobs and the public support.
When the officer who wanted to strike, asked me if there were any circumstances that would cause me to strike, I told him that I could only foresee one scenario where I would favor a police strike. If the city changed the conditions of the job, so as to make it detrimental to the health and safety of police officers, I would agree to and participate in a strike. As an example, if the city decided that its police officers could no longer carry firearms, this would cause me to consider a job action. This would be a case of the city arbitrarily taking away a fundamental tool of the trade. That act would greatly diminish an officer's ability to do the job and put them in harm's way.
If Assembly Bill 931 passes the state legislature and is signed into law by the governor, it would greatly diminish California police officers' ability to do the job and put every officer in harm's way. Why any law enforcement officer would continue to work under such conditions is beyond any reasonable understanding.
While more and more Californians abandon that state for Arizona, we need to guard against such laws that would cause the Californication of our state.