Editorial

Editorial

EDITORIAL on Opinion page: Rethinking policing

Rights we take seriously:
— The right to peaceful public assembly.
— Innocent till proved guilty.
Nationwide, law enforcement is facing increasing public scrutiny due to horrific abuses of power, as exemplified by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25, and the latest shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Aug. 23.
Only two months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a ban on strangleholds. That is just the beginning of the changes needed. The Ojai Valley News calls upon the governor to make good on his call for the creation of standardized crowd-control measures. Tear gas is a chemical weapon banned in warfare by the Geneva Convention, yet permitted for use against Californians exercising their legal rights.
What right do the police have to beat people with batons, fire tear gas or rubber bullets into their faces, and use tasers indiscriminately at protests?
These policies and actions do not reflect their stated duty to protect and serve. Their services are essential and appreciated. However, the overreach we have witnessed demonstrates the need for reform.
Recently, the media have shown police confronting protesters head on in power struggles, rather than protecting property and apprehending those committing crimes. While police are lining up with batons, tasers, rubber bullets and tear gas that they turn on law-abiding citizens, hoodlums are taking advantage of an opportunity, breaking into buildings, looting and setting fires. When federal law enforcement officers arrived in Portland, Oregon, they appeared to be more interested in playing gladiator, taking up positions like a futuristic redcoat regiment in a defensive square.
As of June, at least 60 protesters across the country have sustained serious head injuries, including a broken jaw, traumatic brain injuries, and blindness, including seven people who have lost an eye. The punishment needs to fit the crime.
One of the 10 recently introduced California bills on police reform is:
Assembly Bill 66 (Gonzalez): Ban on crowd-control devices that would:
    • Prohibit the use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents by law enforcement on peaceful protesters or to facilitate curfews.
    • Prohibit the use of tear gas by law enforcement.
    • Set clear minimum standards for use of these “less lethal” weapons by law enforcement. 
    • Require data collection on the use of, and any resulting injuries from, these “less lethal” weapons.
The Ojai Valley News appreciates the city of Ojai’s adoption of a resolution this week standing against racial injustice and supporting racial equality. However, support and adoption without substantive change will not be enough. We are calling for a meaningful reassessment of our community’s needs. The OVN is not calling for “defunding police,” but the city needs to renegotiate and reduce its expired contract with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, as we pay more per capita than any city in the county. The City Council must take a more active role in sheriff services and become involved with the California Highway Patrol, which also polices us. These departments work for us!
The OVN calls upon Gov. Newsom, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, Assemblymember Monique Limon and Supervisor Steve Bennett to limit the types of weapons used against residents, and restrict some police tactics. Institute accountability and transparency, and restore the true mission of the police to “protect and serve.”
Please work with state legislators to get some of 10 proposed reform bills passed such as:
AB 66 (Gonzalez) Ban on Crowd Control Devices; AB1506 (McCarty) Use of Force Investigations, AB 1652 (Wicks) Corralling Protesters; AB1022 (Holden) Consequences for Use of Force; SB 776 (Skinner) Peace office Records
Speak your mind:
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Gov. Gavin Newsom: 916-445-2841