On Thursday, June 18, 2020, the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) launched a new platform, “CA Leading the Way,” in support of major changes and reforms in policing nationwide. This platform, which has also been endorsed by Eureka Police Department Chief Steve Watson, was formally adopted by CPCA’s Board of Directors during an urgency meeting on Tuesday. Chief Watson was appointed to the Board of Directors as the association’s Region 1 Representative in December 2019.
The CA Leading the Way platform sets forth guiding principles, policies, and best practices as part of a comprehensive strategy of dynamic policing reforms. The platform begins with an unequivocal statement condemning “all acts of excessive force and racially biased policing in the country,” and it seeks to move forward with law enforcement, community leaders, elected officials, and social justice organizations working together toward these shared goals.
According to a press release from the California Police Chiefs Association yesterday, “Reforms include calling for a nationwide use-of-force policy standard modeled after California law, expansion of accountability and disciplinary actions, an increased emphasis on transparency, ongoing focus on diversity in recruitment, programmatic support for officer mental health and wellness, and continued development of specific training practices.”
Key elements of the platform include:
- Support for nationwide department policies on use of force (including de-escalation, duty to intercede against excessive force, rendering medical aid after force is used, reporting requirements, and protection of First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful assembly during protests).
- Accountability and disciplinary actions for officers (including support for decertification of officers under certain conditions such as any felony conviction and a history of egregious misconduct; tracking information related to officers who resign in lieu of discipline or termination; and mandating the Attorney General investigate deadly force incidents if requested by a local agency).
- Increased transparency through public disclosure of police personnel files related to use of force resulting in death or great bodily injury, sexual assault and other serious job-related misconduct such as dishonesty. Furthermore, mandating the public disclosure of all law enforcement policies.
- Support for ongoing efforts to recruit diverse police candidates and retain existing officers who serve with integrity and honor; reviews and audits of hiring and psychological screening processes used to identify worthy police candidates.
- Funding for programs that improve peace officers’ mental health and wellness, and mandatory mental health and wellness checks to ensure the continued stability and safety of officers.
- Mandated implicit and racial bias training for all law enforcement, de-escalation training that focuses on alternatives to deadly force, and changes in overall training that focus more on cultural and community awareness.
- Reforms outside policing that close educational achievement gaps by increasing resources to historically disadvantaged areas, increase access to vocational training and job opportunities (including public safety), improve responses to individuals in crisis (including those with severe mental illness and substance abuse disorders), support access to fair housing, and support rehabilitative and re-entry programs.
Concerning this modernized platform, Chief Watson said:
“We have already seen many positive police reforms in California, including changes to use of force policy and law. In many ways, California’s standards for police training, policies, and practices lead the nation. However, this does not mean we cannot do more and now is not the time to celebrate our accomplishments. We need to take another look at what is working and where we are still failing. We must acknowledge that law enforcement is not immune from the impact of racism and bias in our country’s shared history, both past and present.
Law enforcement leadership must continually ask how can we improve and how can we better connect with our communities including those that question and do not trust the police. We must listen, understand, and empathize while finding new and collaborative ways to build stronger communities and connections together. Police conduct must align with the communities we serve across this nation. The Eureka Police Department is committed to this process.”
After adoption by the Cal Chief's Board of Directors, the association launched its platform on police reform on June 18, 2020, with a press conference. You can view the press conference by following the link below.
Established in 1966, the California Police Chiefs Association represents over 330 municipal police chiefs and their agencies in California. Association members provide public safety for more than 26 million Californians. Serving as the voice of and resource of choice for California’s municipal police chiefs, the association’s objectives are to promote and advance the science and art of police administration and crime prevention; to develop and disseminate professional administrative practices and to promote their use in the police profession; to foster police cooperation and the exchange of information and experience throughout the state; to bring about recruitment and training of qualified persons in the police profession; and to encourage the adherence of all police officers to high professional standards of conduct in strict compliance with the Law Enforcement Officer’s Code of Ethics.
Cal Chiefs advocates for sound policy on public safety issues at the state capitol and has an active government relations program. In addition to its committees that focus on emerging issues and provide resources and sample policies to its members, Cal Chiefs provides professional development and training to police chiefs and seconds in command throughout the state.