Changes recommended for policing in Southern California

’Prioritizing human dignity’

City News Service | 6/26/2020, midnight

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations released a report recommending changes to policing in the region, calling for an end to qualified immunity, reallocation of funding to community initiatives and assigning use-of-force investigations to special prosecutors outside the D.A.’s office.

“Redefining Policing with Our Community’’ offered 34 recommendations that seek to “build a new normal that prioritizes human dignity and repairs the damage done by discriminatory policies and practices,’’ according to the commission.

Launched as a part of a 2015 project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Watts Riots, the report takes into account feedback from seven public hearings and multiple other meetings with residents and advocates, including women of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and more than 50 community-based organizations.

The commission also convened meetings with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and other police departments in cities throughout the county.

“To assess policing in L.A. County 50 years after the Watts Rebellion was an ambitious undertaking,’’ said Commissioner Isabelle Gunning, chair of the commission’s Committee on Policing and Human Relations. “Through this report, our hope is to bring about systemic and cultural changes in policing that will honor George Floyd and the many others whose lives have been lost or damaged.’’

The nine key strategies underlying the recommendations include increasing transparency and accountability, revising use-of-force policies, ending overpolicing and underprotection of vulnerable communities and enhancing community-based alternatives to law enforcement.

Some of the recommendations include:

-- Changing federal and state laws and local policies to end qualified immunity and provide public access to information about police officers involved in complaint and misconduct investigations, including their prior history;

-- Significantly increasing funding, including at the expense of law enforcement budgets, for community-based initiatives such as sobering centers, youth development programs and community response teams;

-- Assigning use-of-force investigations to independent special prosecutors housed outside of law enforcement agencies and the district attorney’s office; and

-- Requiring deeper analysis and more frequent dissemination of data collected through the Racial and Identity Profiling Act to eliminate anti-Black racism, bias and discrimination

Members of the Board of Supervisors indicated their support for many of the recommendations in the report.

“It is unconscionable that our communities of color are treated differently on account of race and ethnicity, and this plays out every day in their interactions with our criminal justice system. We need to push for true police accountability and denounce police brutality and harassment,’’ said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.