Proposed Legislation and California Department of Justice Respond to Demands for Police Transparency
The “Black Lives Matter” Movement Comes to Sacramento, California
On September 2, 2015 members of the Black Lives Matter movement staged a “die in” protest, laying down outside the office of California Governor Jerry Brown. Other protestors stood upright, chanting “black lives matter” while holding pictures of black individuals killed by police officers. This protest was part of mounting pressures to engage in meaningful reform of law enforcement that began in response to the Michael Brown case in Ferguson Missouri.
The State Legislature Sends Assembly Bill 953 to the Governor’s Desk
Before ending the current legislative session, the California State Assembly Members voted 42-24 in favor AB 953. The bill, if signed by Governor Brown, would require officers to provide additional information regarding the race of the person being stopped by law enforcement. Under current California Law, police officers are not required to report information regarding the race of individuals they pull over.
While critics say that this will put more work on an already strained police force, members of the Black Lives Matter movement think that requiring officers to disclose this information will reveal patterns of racial profiling. While Governor Brown has not indicated whether he will sign the bill into law, his office issued a statement welcoming the civic activism Black Lives Matter and other groups.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris Announces Open Justice Initiative
In a similar vein, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the OpenJustice Initiative which will report data on arrest rates, criminal defendant and inmate deaths in custody, and the assault or murder of law enforcement officers. In her statement on the front page of the new website AG Harris stated, “OpenJustice is a tool that embraces transparency and data in the criminal justice system to strengthen public trust, enhance government accountability, and inform public policy”. According to the website Police Open Data Census only 38 municipalities put a small portion of their enforcement data online for public viewing.