george floyd protests

Police Reform Efforts in California

While protests demanding racial equality and police reform have been reignited in Wisconsin, how successful have the efforts been when it comes to actual police reform?

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People across the United States and the world were angry and took to the streets after police officers in Minneapolis killed George Floyd in May. Since then, more than a dozen bills regarding police reform, oversight, and accountability were introduced in the California legislature, but today only a few are still being considered.

One bill would ensure police officers would lose their credentials and be fired for certain misconduct. Police officers say reform efforts shouldn't be rushed.

"These hearings that are happening they're really not having the ability to go meet and work out these details, to meet as a group trying to negotiate something through a zoom call is very, very difficult and these are really important issues that deserve the proper time and vetting to get it right," said Damon Kurtz, a police officer and Vice President of Peace Officers Research Association of California.

Reform activists worry that these bills aren't passing because politicians are too cozy with police unions.

"Those people who have been, you know, working on these types of reforms and changes in police departments for years now understand kind of how big of a system and how much money is really being put into politics in order to prevent any kind of real change or any attempts to limit the powers that police officers have in our communities," said Khalid Alexander, said Founder and President of Pillars of the Community.

Activists also worry that the shortened legislative session and concerns over funding proposals due to budget constraints in the pandemic will translate to no action being taken.

Other bills that the legislature can still consider include specifying when and how law enforcement officers can use rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters and banning chokeholds and carotid restraints.

California legislators have until Monday night to vote on the remaining police reform bills. Governor Newsom would have until the end of September to sign off on them.

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