In the ever-evolving landscape of legislation, it’s crucial to understand the implications of new bills on the safety and well-being of our communities. The San Bernardino Police Officers Association (SBPOA) is deeply committed to ensuring that our neighborhoods remain safe and that the laws we enforce align with that commitment. Today, we wish to address two bills that have raised significant concerns within our ranks: SB-50 and SB-94.
SB-50: A Threat to Public Safety
SB-50 seeks to amend the current law surrounding vehicular stops. As it stands, peace officers have the authority to make arrests or stops based on probable cause, ensuring that any public offense committed in their presence is addressed. SB-50, however, would prohibit officers from stopping or detaining the operator of a motor vehicle or bicycle for what it deems a “low-level infraction” unless there’s another independent basis for the stop or multiple infractions are observed.
At first glance, this might seem like a benign attempt to reduce unnecessary traffic stops. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that this bill could severely hamper the ability of peace officers to maintain public safety on our roads. By prohibiting officers from stopping individuals from these infractions, we risk allowing minor violations to escalate into major incidents.
How often have you heard or seen a news story where a police officer pulls over a vehicle for a minor infraction, only to find a kidnapped child, rape victim, or dead body inside the vehicle? Many of us remember when the federal building in Oklahoma was bombed by Timothy McVeigh, killing 168 people and injuring another 160. As McVeigh calmly drove through the state following the bombing, it was a simple traffic stop by an Oklahoma State Trooper that led to McVeigh’s arrest. And what was McVeigh pulled over for? The registration sticker was missing from his license plate.
Imagine an officer observing a vehicle with a broken tail light—a seemingly minor infraction. Under SB-50, the officer might be prohibited from making a stop. Yet, that vehicle with a broken tail light could cause a fatal traffic collision when struck from behind by another motorist, which would have been preventable. The ability to address these infractions not only ensures the safety of our roads but also serves as a deterrent for more severe violations and, more importantly, the apprehension of violent suspects.
SB-94: Undermining the Safety of Our Communities
SB-94 is a bill that touches on a sensitive area of our justice system. It would allow individuals serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, under specific exceptional circumstances, to petition for recall and resentencing if their offense occurred before June 5, 1990, and they’ve served at least 25 years in custody.
While we recognize and respect the importance of judicial discretion and the rights of individuals to seek redress, this bill goes a step too far. By allowing these individuals to re-enter society potentially, we risk reintroducing dangerous individuals back into our communities.
The very essence of special circumstances in sentencing is to recognize the gravity of certain crimes. To undermine this by allowing potential resentencing after 25 years, especially without a comprehensive review of the individual’s threat to society, is counterproductive to our mission of safeguarding our communities. Furthermore, this bill sends a demoralizing message to the law enforcement community, suggesting our sacrifices and risks to ensure justice are in vain.
Many have lost focus on why laws exist and, more importantly, that those who have traumatized our communities must be held accountable for their actions. It seems that more and more laws are either changed or created to benefit the criminal element rather than the law-abiding people working hard every day to provide for their families. Shame on local and state politicians who support this degradation of public safety in the name of social justice. They pander for your votes, pretending they care about public safety, yet they vote for legislation that directly and more adversely harms the City of San Bernardino
Standing Together for Safety
The San Bernardino Police Officers Association is not opposed to change. We believe in a justice system that evolves and adapts. However, we also believe in the importance of ensuring that any modifications prioritize the safety and well-being of our communities. Both SB-50 and SB-94, in their current forms, pose significant threats to this safety. We stand firmly against them and urge our community members to join us in voicing their concerns. Together, we can ensure a safer future for all.
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