An Anaheim protest and march on Sunday, July 21 brought together the families of two dozen people killed by police in different cities across California. Over three hundred supporters marched loudly, but peacefully, from Anaheim City Hall to Anaheim Police Department headquarters. Family members recounted how their sons, husbands, and other relatives had been shot to death by police officers. Fatherless children stood by their mothers, who often said they thought they were alone until they found others who had suffered similar losses, and decided to demand justice for their slain loved ones, who they claimed were needlessly killed.
The gathering portends a larger movement, referred to by several speakers, which links unnecessary violence and harassment by officers of the law with the need for civilian oversight of police departments and the reform of California’s Peace Officers Bill of Rights (POBR, or POBAR). POBR is often cited as an impediment to civilian police oversight because it guarantees a level of privacy to police officers not enjoyed by members of other professions, making it difficult for the public to know if individual officers have multiple complaints against them or have been disciplined by their departments for dangerous or inappropriate behavior.
Earlier this year the Fullerton City Council approved its annual Legislative Platform, including direction to “Support and monitor statewide actions to reform POBAR to allow for more transparency.” Will our representatives in the State Senate and State Assembly make this reform a priority? The 65th Assembly District includes both Anaheim and Fullerton. As the 2014 election season approaches, all candidates for this hotly contested seat should make clear their positions on statewide reform of POBR so that police departments can be held more directly accountable to the people they serve.