One very simple explanation of what law enforcement agencies do is: They enforce the law.
Yet there have been many recent examples of California police agencies actively resisting having to do just that.
The Appeal reported this week that district attorneys across the state are filing motions challenging a new state law that allows people who had a limited or minor role in a crime that led to murder but were nonetheless convicted under the “felony murder rule” to have their sentences re-evaluated.
“Any time a DA in a particular county resists the Legislature, I think it does call into question their role in our system,” Kate Chatfield, an attorney and law professor, told the Appeal.
inewsource reported earlier this year that the San Diego DA’s office is among those that plans to continue challenging the law even now that it’s passed and gone into effect.
Police agencies, meanwhile, have tried to move heaven and earth to stop a separate state law that makes public certain police misconduct records from going into effect. They’ve filed legal challenges up and down the state – and so far, they’ve lost each and every one. Yet the challenges keep coming – the latest one doesn’t just attempt to block records from being released, it actually argues the records in question should be destroyed. Poof. Gone forever.
Meanwhile, a report released this week detailed the ways in which law enforcement agencies across the state have policies that are out of compliance with SB 54, the California Values Act, passed in 2017. The report notes that the Chula Vista Police Department, for example, still has policies on the books allowing officers to conduct several activities that now violate the law, including releasing people to ICE who have been determined to be material witnesses to a crime.
It’s one thing to lobby against a bill you don’t agree with in the run-up to it becoming law – that’s precisely what that process is for. But it’s disturbing to see law enforcement officials essentially refusing to perform the most essential function of their job simply because they don’t like it or don’t agree with it. Imagine if someone told a police officer or the elected DA that they didn’t feel like obeying a certain law because they didn’t agree with it. I’m guessing it wouldn’t go over too well.
What VOSD Learned This Week
In the months leading up to VOSD’s investigation revealing accusations of sexual misconduct by San Diego Unified Trustee Kevin Beiser, Beiser scrambled behind the scenes to identify who was about to come forward and to keep the accusations from going public.
Some of the city’s longest-running dramas had their moments in the sun this week: A court declined to scrap Prop. B altogether but found the city must make whole employees hired after it went into effect. The process of moving utility lines underground is still slow-going, but the city says it’s about to speed up.
It turns out, when you have someone watching local water boards, they find some interesting stuff. The Sweetwater Authority paid an engineer to agree to never work for the agency again; now he’s a member of the board.
What I’m Reading
- Shot: The year 1999 had an absurd number of good movies. Here they are, ranked. Chaser: The rankings got one thing wrong: It undervalued “10 Things I Hate About You,” not just the greatest movie of 1999 but perhaps of all time. To make up for that snub, here’s an oral history of the movie in the paper of record. (The Ringer, New York Times)
- We might not know what’s in the Mueller report, but finally there’s an answer to the very important mystery of why plastic novelty Garfield phone parts have been washing up on a French beach for decades. (Atlas Obscura)
- I honestly cry-laughed my way through this piece on the pitfalls of projecting your computer screen during work meetings. (New York Times)
- A couple days later, I cry-laughed my way through this piece on rejected vanity license plates and the Calfiornia DMV’s reasoning for each rejection. (Los Angeles Magazine)
- I’m a big fan of the movie “The Martian,” which I once heard described as “competency porn.” That was the description that came to mind when I read this brutal, magnificent takedown of Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Federal Reserve Board. Competency porn at its finest. (Washington Post)
Line of the Week
“Having weighed the options, I would rather die from cycling too fast than disappoint her.” — The kind of devotion inspired by one Peloton cycling instructor.