I was very disappointed after I read an article in the Sunday, February 26, 2017 edition of the Victorville Daily Press by Jose Quintero. The article was an interview conducted by the editorial board of Sheriff McMahon and comments by Assemblyman Obernolte regarding AB 953. This bill would enact the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, which would, among other changes, revise the definition of racial profiling to instead refer to racial or identity profiling, and make a conforming change to the prohibition against peace officers engaging in that practice.
In the article, Sheriff McMahon is quoted as saying “it’s crazy” to have law enforcement officers have to fill out racial profiling documents to collect data on who and why citizens are being stopped and detained. According to the article McMahon is also quoted as saying “it will cause officers not to be proactive therefore allowing crime to increase and crooks will go unchecked.”
Assemblyman Jay Obernolte is quoted as saying “he believes the bill is not a step in the right direction.” He also said, “he believes that it places guilt on officers by making the assumption that all of them engage in racial profiling.”
One must ask these elected officials if they have been paying attention to the recent events in San Bernardino County and around the nation the last few years involving law enforcement and racial profiling issues.
NEWS FLASH: For years in this country and in particular San Bernardino County law enforcement members in certain areas have fallen short in delivering the expected service to the citizens they serve. In recent weeks, a person of color was threatened with arrest without probable cause while seeking assistance from a sheriff’s station deputy as documented via video tape and news reports in the Victorville Daily Press on Saturday February 11, 2017.I wonder how that report would read after the citizen was told by the deputy that if he did not leave he would create a reason to arrest him.
I won’t get into names and agencies but, I am a retired officer of over 25 years and I know that there are many professionals in law enforcement doing the job day in and day out without complaints. Have you heard the regrets about the 1994 Crime Bill signed by President Bill Clinton and what it did to communities of color? Have you heard about Mass Incarnation and how it affected communities of color? When trust between law enforcement and the community is breached, the need for action on the part of those elected that are sensitive to the community needs, take action. Deficient systems and police culture inhibit many other complaints of police misconduct from ever being filed. These deficiencies keep unconstitutional conduct and practices hidden.
This breach in trust has in turn eroded many law enforcement agencies ability to effectively prevent crime. In other words, trust and effectiveness in combating violent crime are inextricably intertwined. Racial profiling is not necessary in any form no matter the community, but it continues to occur.
AB 953 aims to curb the harmful and unjust practice of racial and identity profiling, and increase transparency and accountability with law enforcement agencies.
Racial and identity profiling occurs when law enforcement officers stop, search, property seize, or interrogate a person without evidence of criminal activity. These practices not only humiliate and frighten law abiding Californians, but also divert limited community resources away from evidence-based policing, thus making us all less safe.
I hope that soon the elected officials will familiarize themselves with twenty-first century policing issues when it comes to the communities that are effected that make it necessary for legislation such as AB 953.
AB 953 legislation can be found at the link below: