As the new year begins in California, so do a set of laws designed to better regulate the state’s police departments. This follows the 2020 protests that targeted police misconduct and violent crowd control tactics.
Residents of Santa Clara County will also see a handful of other important laws come into effect this year, ranging from new appointment requirements for health care to new rules for denser construction in single-family neighborhoods. .
Some of the more important new laws include a series of police reforms created in the wake of the George Floyd protests in 2020. SB 2 creates a process for revoking the certification of officers who have committed serious misconduct. California was one of four states without state laws to revoke an officer’s certification.
Another law, AB 48, restricts police use of rubber bullets and other less lethal weapons during protests, unless someone’s life is in danger, and requires departments to publish reports on how they use these weapons. The San Jose Police Department changed its policy in 2020 to ban the use of rubber bullets to control crowds for non-violent individuals. Mayor Sam Liccardo has pushed to ban them completely after injuries during protests, but the rest of council voted against the proposal, saying it endangers the safety of officers.
Even with these changes, supporters of local police reform are skeptical about the ability of these reforms to do much to address the underlying causes of police violence.
“There are yet to be bigger changes in general with the way police continue to target underrepresented and low-income communities,” said Jahmal Williams, co-chair of Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet in Silicon Valley, San Jose. Spotlight adding AB 48 is flawed as it still gives police the power to use violence during protests.
Last year, the police use of force was highlighted in a report by the Independent Police Auditor, and a group of people are suing the city after the SJPD allegedly used excessive force against the city. protesters during the 2020 protests.
The San Jose Police Officers Association has previously advocated for a process to ensure that those not qualified to be officers are not allowed to carry a gun and badge, spokesman Tom said. Saggau.
“Nobody in law enforcement wants someone who has committed a crime, who is not qualified or who does not have the right temperament, to be a police officer,” he said. in San Jose Spotlight. He added that most of the major California police departments already disclose the use of less lethal weapons.
Raj Jayadev, co-founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, said any tool that prevents police officers from engaging in repeated abuse is helpful. But SB 2 only applies to officers convicted of crimes, he noted, reducing its usefulness. Jayadev wants jurisdictions to move away from police oversight – such as passing a law to track the use of less lethal weapons during protests – and focus on minimizing or eliminating police interactions with the public.
As an example, he cited AB 118, also known as the Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems Act. This law, co-sponsored by Silicon Valley De-Bug, sets aside millions of dollars in public funding for a grant program to support community alternatives to police responses, especially for things like mental health appeals. .
âThese are things that will literally save lives,â Jayadev told the San Jose Spotlight, adding that Santa Clara County already had its own pilot program.
Another state law, AB 89, increases the age limit for being a police officer from 18 to 21 and requires new police officers to have a bachelor’s degree.
SJPD spokesman Christian Camarillo said the department has always required recruits to be 21 or older and have a college degree by the time they graduate from the academy. He told the San Jose Spotlight that he didn’t anticipate the new law would have much of an impact on the department.
Meetings that save lives
SB 221 – a minor but significant change in healthcare appointments – will not take effect until July 1. The law requires providers to offer return appointments to patients with mental disorders and substance abuse no more than 10 days after a previous session.
Victor Ojakian, co-chair of the Santa Clara County National Alliance for Mental Health, but speaking in his personal capacity, said the law would hopefully prevent patients from experiencing excessive discrepancies between appointments feedback. Continuity of care with therapists and psychiatrists is essential for people transitioning from suicide prevention care to incarceration.
“The bill helps to solve this problem by saying not only that a person must receive care, but also must receive continuous care during subsequent appointments made in a timely manner,” Ojakian told San Jose Spotlight.
Ojakian said a potential challenge to implementing the bill is the shortage of mental health care providers in California. The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which sponsored SB 221, said in a statement that wait times for treatment appointments at Kaiser Permanente ranged from one to three months.
SB 9 also comes into effect this year, a controversial law that effectively killed single-family zoning across California by allowing denser developments, albeit with many restrictions.
San Jose lawmakers voted to implement SB 9, which will allow homeowners to subdivide single-family lots in half to create up to four housing units per plot. San Jose was tinkering with a similar local initiative called Opportunity Housing which it chose to ditch in favor of state law.
The city is still trying to enforce the law. Some requirements, such as having developers certify that they intend to live in an SB 9 project for at least three years, can be difficult to apply, while a proposal to examine historic districts for them. SB 9 housing elicited a reaction from some residents.
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