Today the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County (LWVSC) released a policing oversight report after a yearlong study. The report examines the Sacramento Police Department (SPD) and city government’s role in policing oversight. Although the report cites positive steps the city has taken, it identifies the need for significant improvement and calls on the city council to make necessary and, in some cases, life-saving changes.
LWVSC evaluated how SPD’s recently revised use-of-force policies align with California’s Act to Save Lives (AB 392), a state law that took effect on January 1 of this year. LWVSC’s report found that SPD’s revised use-of-force policies have not complied with the law even after receiving criticism and recommendations from the California Department of Justice and the city’s own Sacramento Community Police Review Commission. AB 392 intends to “affirmatively prescribe the circumstances under which a peace officer is authorized to use deadly force to effect an arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance.” The SPD’s use-of-force policies miss the mark.
Norma Nelson, founder and chair of the LWVSC Criminal Justice Committee, stated, “Unfortunately, the most disproportionately impacted people in policing are in the Black community, along with other people of color and people experiencing behavioral health issues. We need a change that breaks the chain of these systemic disparities throughout our criminal justice system—starting where we can make a difference.”
The LWVSC report shows the need for fundamental change in how Sacramento oversees policing and policy reform. It also finds there is no need to amend the city charter or to adopt new ordinances. The city has the governance structure to set reform in motion now. It has the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, whose advice it has sought, but which it has yet to accept; it has the Office of Public Safety Accountability under its direction; and has the authority to insist the City Manager implement policies on policing.
“The buck stops with the City Council!” added Suzi Bakker, LWVSC President. “Sacramento, along with the rest of the country, is at a crossroads. But unlike many other parts of the country, Sacramento is has the means; it needs only the will to change.”
The California Assembly Committee on Public Safety provided analysis for AB 392 stating, “In 2017, officers killed 172 people in California, only half of whom had guns. Police kill more people in California than in any other state – and at a rate 37% higher than the national average per capita . . . These tragedies disproportionately impact communities of color as California police kill unarmed young black and Latino men at significantly higher rates than they do white men.”
Read our report online HERE.