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Op-Ed: When Did Public Safety Become Partisan??


LOS ANGELES, CA – The 2021 California Legislative Session ended with 2,776 bills and resolutions having been authored across both legislative houses, with 917 of those submitted being chaptered to become law. At 71, less than 3% of the bills submitted, had some reference to the subject of peace officers and public safety. 13 of those 71 bills (including the resolution for California Public Safety Telecommunicators Week) actually saw the Governor’s signature approving the legislation.

The overwhelming majority of those public safety bills are being passed without any bi-partisan support. However, another telling observation is the fact that on a good number of those bills, a number of legislators chose to have no vote recorded. While that could be for any number of possible reasons, it would be difficult to ignore the fact that legislators can be finding themselves being put between rock and a hard place as the majority party is enacting policy to no longer accept money from law enforcement.

For the majority party to unilaterally disengage from receiving contributions of law enforcement is tantamount to telling them that the doors of dialogue are in essence closed. To shut them out of the discussion in offering constructive feedback and ending a mutually supportive partnership does very little to advance the pursuit of social justice reform in any meaningful way. Perhaps for too long one party has become so accustomed to steamrolling over voices seeking to sound a signal of caution on a litany of public policy decisions, which have only put the public in peril, and that this same party sees no concern in silencing some of the most significant stakeholders who could contribute to substantive solutions.

The result of this action is to say that this same majority party really has no desire to hear what law enforcement has to say on issues of profound legislative importance. With that being the case, law enforcement may have to make some very drastic decisions. Certainly, at a minimum, there is a need to address the perception perspective and invest on reframing the narrative. Particularly relevant would be to ensure that the public sees this action by the majority party to be a step in the wrong direction. A step that is seen to be yet another taken on the pathway of broken public safety policy and that only serves to further destroy the path with evermore destructive and divisive partisanship.

Rather than using the power of a super majority to advance unity in problem solving on a plague of rising crime sweeping the state, the action taken was to widen the divide and cut communication. If the prominent political party of the state is unwilling to facilitate communication, then it would not be surprising, and in fact it would be entirely justifiable, to see county sheriffs and law enforcement officials using their bully pulpits to take their messages straight to constituents.

For over a decade, disastrous policies on substance abuse, “petty” crime, criminal activity by the homeless against other members of the unhoused community, increases in gang associations, and rising cases of violent juvenile offenders have been putting the people of California in greater danger. Yet, rather than letting the facts speak from themselves, politicians with radical agendas distort the data through pretzeled and contortionist attempts trying to get it to say what they think supports their position, while often contradicting themselves in the process.

Such a contradiction is oftentimes responsible for the role of law enforcement being ignored in the arena of public safety legislation at the Capitol. The result is to only see pushed further failed policies.

In response, more and more cities are seeing non-partisan city councils having to take matters into their own hands. The result being it more commonplace for them to address the concerns of their residents with local ordinances and resolutions. In fact, over the past several months, 31 cities of Los Angeles County have even taken votes of No Confidence against the dangerous directives of DA George Gascon that undermine public safety; and in San Francisco residents have collected enough signatures to get the recall of DA Chesa Boudin on a ballot before voters.

Such actions by communities may start a series of questions as to whether the majority party’s decision to sever the ties of financial contributions from law enforcement may not be met with a backlash. If the party does not have a desire to build bridges with law enforcement, nor promote community conversation with them, then at what point might those communities realize that the problem is not with law enforcement, but rather with the party and the politicians preventing problems from getting solved? And then the question will be whether that realization actually promotes change by the people? Perhaps 2022 will provide the answers.

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