by Contributing Writer, Valarie Scruggs
Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) – spent time with Sacramento residents at the CeCe’s Cuts Town Hall Forum in Natomas on Monday, February 23, 2015. The Senator reached out to barbers, small business owners, and residents to gain insight into steps needed to bring healing and open dialogue into a positive place between public servants and the community. Discussions focused on issues related to police body-cameras; maintaining district of choice for parents in education; and taxes, financing, child care and insurance for small business. The Senator and residents were appreciative of the opportunity to hear current perspectives and learn about the impact existing and new legislation will have in our area.
Feedback from many African American barbers and other small business owners shared their concerns about the need to restore trust and accountability between urban residents and the police. Senator Huff has introduced SB175, legislation that would encourage each department or agency to require Peace Officers to wear body-cameras when responding to public disturbances. The bill also requires policies to be developed and put in place stipulating times when, the duration, and places when body-worn cameras shall be operated. Decisions on how the video footage would be used and made available to defendants, prosecutors and the public would also need to be determined. The majority of participants were in favor of SB175. However, everyone acknowledged that the new camera equipment is an additional tool in recording resident and police interactions. Use of the cameras must be supported by investing in police selection, police training, the creation of more opportunities for positive police interactions in the community, and elimination of implicit bias toward certain communities and racial profiling.
An example of how police and residents could interface more positively was a suggested joint police and community training on the body-worn camera roll out if the bill passes. The joint training would give residents and police officers an opportunity to learn how the cameras work, discuss their perspectives on the equipment and come to an understanding on how to avoid unnecessary aggression on both sides with respect to recording these interactions.