California Police Unions Call For Change: ‘The days of unions trying to block reform and new policy are gone.’

The San Jose Mercury News reports:

“In what could signal a major shift in law-enforcement attitudes toward longstanding complaints about its use of violence, California’s largest police unions called Sunday for a reform agenda aimed at lessening the use of force, increasing accountability and rooting out racist police officers.

In full-page ads in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, the Mercury News and the East Bay Times, the San Jose Police Officers Association, the San Francisco Police Officers Association and the Los Angeles Police Protective League announced the national reform proposal after weeks of protests and marches against police violence, even as new deaths have happened at the hands of police . . .

The plan pulls in various initiatives that some departments have individually implemented over the past several years, also recommending the creation of a national database of former police officers who were fired for gross misconduct to keep other agencies from hiring them.

The unions also called for a national use-of-force standard that ’emphasizes reverence for life, de-escalation, a duty to intercede, proportional responses to dangerous incidents and strong accountability,’ mirrored after 2017 changes to Los Angeles Police Department policy, and public websites tracking the use of force, as done by San Jose police.

But many citizens have lost faith in law enforcement, leading to calls to defund police departments or abolish the police entirely— and rapid offerings for change from police that are viewed with suspicion by some.

Raj Jayadev, co-founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, dismissed the Sunday announcement as a way to distract the public from the real issues of policing reform.

‘This is just the playbook of the police officers association,’ he said. ‘I give this document zero credibility. The San Jose POA has unequivocally been disrespectful and oppositional to Black Lives Matter.’

Joe Alioto Veronese, a former San Francisco police commissioner who said he often was at odds with the union when proposing reform policies, called Sunday’s announcement a glimmer of hope. But he wondered whether the hard work to create change would gain traction.

‘I’m just not hopeful they will care a month from now,’ Alioto said in an interview. ‘This is too important an issue to just push aside for the next big issue.’

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo cautioned Sunday that lasting change will not happen with simplistic solutions.

‘There will be plenty of detractors who will say this is not enough,’ Liccardo said. ‘I would encourage them to roll up their sleeves with all of us to explore what needs to be done in the weeks and months ahead rather than criticize those willing to take these first steps.

‘I appreciate the unions’ willingness to step forward with these proposals. But of course, there will need to be more.’

Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, said in an interview that union leaders are sensitive to criticism that the announcement is a face-saving tactic.

‘We don’t want to be the roadblock in change,’ he said Sunday. ‘The days of unions trying to block reform and new policy are gone. We can’t continue to say the stats don’t show” a problem. ‘ ”You have a bad apple.” That rhetoric has to stop.’

Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, called the advertisement an important first step. Chavez said she appreciated the approach where union leaders are saying this is the beginning of a conversation police need to have with community leaders, including its critics.

‘If this forces transformative conversations, not cosmetic conversations, to help us to re-imagine policing in our country the unions need to play a leadership role,’ she said. ‘I hope the steps of these unions will prompt other unions to do the same thing.’

Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said that the three unions want to create a system to prevent racists from becoming police officers and drumming out such cops when they are identified.

‘We don’t want them in our unions and in our professionals,’ Montoya said. ‘Part of that is admitting they exist.'”

For the rest of the story, visit the San Jose Mercury news here.

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