California police unions advertise reform agenda

June 16, 2020

LAPD officers in riot gear amid a standoff with protesters in Los Angeles. Photo by Josh Friedman

Three California police unions ran full-page advertisements on Sunday in major newspapers in the Golden State, as well as the Washington Post, calling for a nationwide set of policing reforms.

Jointly, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, San Francisco Police Officers Association and San Jose Police Officers’ Association ran ads in the The Washington Post, Los Angels Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Mercury News. The ads contained a statement about the George Floyd killing, as well as policy proposals.

“No words can convey our collective disgust and sorrow for the murder of George Floyd. We have an obligation as a profession and as human beings to express our sorrow by taking action,” the advertisements state.

The full-page ads go on to list several proposed reforms, modeled in large part after existing law enforcement accountability systems and policies used in California.

All three of the police unions are calling for a national use-of-force standard that emphasizes deescalation, proportional response and accountability provisions, which would be mirrored after the Los Angeles Police Department’s existing policies.

Likewise, the Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose police unions are calling for a national database of ex-police officers who were fired for gross misconduct, which would prevent other agencies from hiring them.

Additionally, the police unions are proposing an early warning system to identify officers who may need more training and mentoring, which would be modeled after a San Francisco Police Department system, as well as mandating a publicly accessible use-of-force analysis website similar to one the San Jose Police Department has.

Furthermore, the unions’ proposals call for frequent training of police officers to build and refresh their skills to improve community outcomes, in similar fashion to what is outlined in California’s use of deadly force law, SB 230.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Everybody is crying for accountability…getting fired and charging them with murder sounds like accountability to me. What more do you want?

Wow, this got to be a lot longer than I initially intended. If you don’t want to read it all, just don’t be taken in by all the rhetoric of the police unions. Support effective reform of police agencies. I’m probably going to get figuratively beaten up for this, but her goes.

It doesn’t matter how much training or mentoring is provided, or what “use of force standards” “modeled” or “mirrored after” whatever police agency of the week they care to propose, or what “analysis” or “database” websites are “mandated” especially if these “reforms” are “modeled” on existing “accountability systems and policies”. These are all just buzzwords used by police unions to placate the public and protect the status quo.

The “national database for ex-police officers who were fired for gross misconduct” sound like a good idea, but it will absolutely be corrupted by limiting access, or special definitions of “gross misconduct”, or whatever else the police unions can dream up to avoid scrutiny of the police agencies they control.

There is only one major thing that will result in any real change. That is accountability of both agencies and individuals.


Currently police agencies police themselves through internal affairs (or other such similar sounding named) departments. But not only are these internal affairs departments supervised by the same person that supervises the alleged offenders, the investigators in the agency are members of the same union as the alleged offenders. I can’t immediately think of any other class of government agency that investigates itself. An EFFECTIVE reform would take investigations of police agencies out or the hands of police agencies, and put them in the hands of citizen review boards.


Currently police officers have absolutely “no skin in the game”. They can do whatever they want (oppress, violate civil rights, assault, batter, lie, kill, etc. etc.). They know that there will most likely be no complaint, and if there is a complaint, the punishment will be barely noticeable and administrative in nature rather than criminal. They know that if their agency is sued, they will not be impacted because the taxpayers will pick up the tab for both defense and damages. They know that justice is beyond the reach of most people both in cost and time. No regular person can wait for or afford justice in today’s world. An EFFECTIVE reform would be to give the citizen review board described above the power to refer cases to a grand jury which has the power to indict police officers, bypassing the DA who has a vested interest in avoiding same. Further, there needs to be a mechanism to force police officers to personally participate in the cost of suits brought against their agency.

There are a number of minor meaningful reforms, but they don’t mean much at all until accountability can be achieved.

Rooting out the bad apples is a start, and I am glad these unions are open to doing so, but they stop short. Changing their procedures is more important.

Eric Gardner, Mike Brown, George Floyd all were suspected of criminal activity, with all items associated being under $20, yet they paid with their lives for misdemeanor offenses.

There should be some proportionality of the response to the underlying offense. There is none. And it should be the same across all races. It isn’t

They shoot the guy in the back in Atlanta fleeing. It is not like they had; his car, his license, where he lived, where he worked. It would not take Sherlock Holmes to figure out he’s going to run home. Yet? Bang bang bang. 2 shots in the back with hollow point bullets. Wonder where the 3rd one hit.

We have other means to make people comply. Deadly force used for misdemeanor acts is commonplace. It should not be.

Bad apples plus bad procedures plus inadequate training = avoidable tragedy.

Bad apples is only the start.

Perhaps at the same time that LE are making changes to their current practices, maybe, just maybe we human beings can make changes within ourselves?

Just sayin……

I think it’s time for a mandatory course every year from preschool to 12th grade on why you shouldn’t break the law, or fight with the police. Both sides have to give on this.

The Chris Rock video should be mandatory viewing.

Aside from accountability for excesses, it is time to curb policies that have led to abuse, like no-knock raids and civil asset seizure. But most police generally do their jobs well, and we should push back on the “racist oppressor” narrative that unfairly maligns them.

Law enforcement needs to reform so they follow the same laws they enforce and are held accountable for their actions like anyone else. That being said, we need to support our law enforcement. The alternative is not an option.

I have always felt that all elected officials and those appointed (or hired) to manage our society should be held to higher standards than the public at large.

For example if a cop is rightly convicted of abuse or assault (there are way too many examples of these crimes committed by cops) then the penalty should be swifter and harsher than those imposed of the rest of us who swore no oath and are just living our lives. The opposite is almost always true. Cops and others that hold the public trust that violate that often get off with nothing or little of consequence. It is all upside down. I hope the surge in way overdue sympathy with the BLM movement will right our sinking ship. Go BLM!