OAKLAND (KPIX) — As Americans continue to protest the death of black Americans at the hand of law enforcement officers, many are calling for either police reform or a defunding of police departments.
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is sponsoring a bill called the Justice in Policing Act. It would make sweeping changes to policing but some say it’s not enough. According to Sen. Harris, “Reforming policing is in the best interest of all Americans.”
The legislation Sen. Harris co-sponsored with Sen. Cory Booker would make officers more accountable for their actions. It would limit legal protections for police, create a national database for excessive force cases and ban restraints such as choke holds.
Former Oakland police chief Howard Jordan told KPIX that most officers are on board with reform.
Jordan says “(Officers) don’t have a problem with being held accountable but, I think, they’re a little tired of being second-guessed — immediately second guessed.”
Jordan says the Oakland Police Department knows all about reform as it has been under the watch of a federal monitor for almost 20 years.
The department’s use-of-force policy has been under heavy scrutiny and there have been changes to how complaints are investigated.
Jordan says, “(OPD officers) don’t want their name and reputation to be tarnished. They are sick of being labeled as bad people — which they are not.”
At an Oakland Police Commission virtual meeting Monday night, reform wasn’t good enough for some members of the community.
Will Skinner, a supporter of defunding police, said, “When a group of people are unwilling to change, they must be replaced. We are at a point in history where we have to defund and abolish the Oakland police department.”
Supporters of defunding police want more of a community-based system to keep their neighborhoods safe. Critics argue it’s too big a risk in a city that’s seen 10 murders in just the past week.
Barry Donelan, president of Oakland Police Officers Association said, “We had more murders in a week than we would see in a number of months and we are struggling to serve.”
The proposed legislation does not address defunding. Those decisions will be left up to local cities.