By Gloria M. Hernandez
Three years ago, families met in Oxnard from throughout the state to share their pain and learn from each other. I went to find others like me who had been in the battlefront for years waging battles to change a system so entrenched in abuse. I was shocked when Uncle Bobby from the Oakland Oscar Grant Coalition yelled out “there is Miss Gloria,” having never met him before, but it seemed that he had met LaMesha from South San Francisco, a sister I had been networking with in helping the families of the stolen lives. I would refer families when they were in pain and needing direction to LaMesha, who had already navigated the system, having lost her son in a police shooting; won a lawsuit; and established a foundation to help the families with the city police’s blood money.
In Oxnard, I met others like me willing to travel up and down the state for several years to reach out to others like us, to meet, research, study and finally hash out a way to change structure to go beyond the vigils, the protests, the marches. Yep, the Peoples Justice Network of California was created through volunteer sweat and tears.
Here are our 12 Structural Demands to Address Police Brutality. Please review and reach out to us, or take a point and run with it. These are interesting demands. Although we might not agree on each point, we were in consensus to move forward to change the structure, to stop the shootings, to divert monies to stop the violence and to hold each officer financially accountable rather than hold each city taxpayer hostage.
Structural Demands to Address Police Brutality
- City police departments be funded to the extent possible with General Fund budget resources to ensure local control and that outside funding not come with preconditions or obligations.
- Allocate city General Fund budgets by percentages. That all funded city departments go through a yearly level of service audit to determine funding levels to eliminate both fire and police monopolizing the “lion’s share” of General Fund monies.
- All law-enforcement personnel in the field wear mandatory body cameras to be turned on during all work hours when contact is made with the public, to be used within guidelines that guarantee accountability, safeguard privacy, and prevent the sabotage or misuse of the cameras and captured footage by individual officers or departments.
- Police departments be placed under the management/supervision of the city administrator in a clear line of employee responsibility, liability and control.
- Police be personally liable for their actions while on or off duty by requiring pre-/post-employment personal insurance bonding.
- Supervisorial immunity be eliminated in order to ensure that all accessory parties to misconduct in the command line of authority are held liable for their actions.
- Local independent Civilian Review Boards be instituted and trained as an initial step to complaints in serious categories of police misconduct (misuse of lethal and non-lethal weapons, civil rights violations, employment discrimination, sexual assault, car chases, among others) with operating budgets and staff with power to subpoena and review personnel files for prior or pending personnel actions, be represented on hiring oral boards, to independently investigate and recommend disciplinary action if warranted on citizens’ complaints.
- Amend or repeal Government Code Sections 3300-3312 of the Peace Officers Bill of Rights (POBR). There should be no preferential employee treatment given to law enforcement personnel not already granted to regular management/supervisory/ regular city employees under their respective bargaining unit MOUs and city policies and procedures.
- The State of California institute, under the Department of Justice and separate from local District Attorney offices, an independent Office of Professional Accountability with operating budgets and staff with the power to subpoena and review personnel files for prior or pending personnel actions, to independently investigate and, if warranted, execute disciplinary action or prosecute on citizen claims and charges deemed not adequately handled at the local level.
- Police department de-federalize to strengthen local police control and end participation in the Pentagon’s Excess Property Program 1033 Program.
- SWAT actions to be used when warranted under confirmed dangerous hostage situations and only after crisis negotiations have failed.
- Local personnel city policies should be amended to include a residency requirement for all new hires.
For more information on the Peoples Justice Network, visit http://peoplesjusticenetwork.wordpress.com or contact Antonio Velasquez at aavtonio@hotmail. com or 805-651-4327; Francisco Romero at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323- 915-8242; or Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective at email@example.com or 805-328- 4763.
Gloria Hernandez has been an activist for more than 45 years and cannot help helping people and communities. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-250-2434.