A GOOD THING
I appreciate André Coleman’s historical review of Pasadena PD’s controversial killings and beatings and how the department has improved in its transparency for public understanding to date.
However, if we recall that the department’s increasing release of body cam videos on critical incidents occurred after November 2017, when the Chris Ballew beating was videotaped and released (in December) by a bystander, the department’s turn around makes good sense. With the local public uproar, national and international coverage of the incident, PPD was in the spotlight all through 2018 and could hardly cover up videos then. The new law requiring release of such critical incident videos to the public within 45 days of the incident went into effect on Jan. 1.
The release of these body cam videos is a good thing, but certainly did not flow from the goodness of the heart of PPD. The department had the body cam video of Ballew’s beating and did nothing with it until the bystander video was released. Had it not been for that, we would never have known of the Ballew incident. The department has been forced by public pressure, and now the new law (which CICOPP and others hereabouts lobbied for) to be forthcoming with body cam videos.
Note that the department now proudly shows a reduction in both categorical use of force incidents from 35 in 2017 to 21 in 2018, and 26 this year. Kicks and strikes were reduced by an amazing 77 percent from 2017 to 2018, and a further reduction of 25 percent from 2018 to 2019. Remember the kicks and strikes to Ballew in November 2017? Those videos forced the department to clamp down on the freewheeling gang unit.
One correction: John Burton, Ballew’s attorney, reports that (Officers Lerry) Esparza and (Zachary) Lujan are back on the streets, and of course gathering their pay, keeping their medical and pension benefits while awaiting their court trial. You can, by the way, check out PPD salaries and benefits on transparentcalifornia.com, but Esparza and Lujan’s info is missing. The new transparency?
The department’s efforts at more transparency is commendable, but let’s be real on how it came about. It’s a costly lesson, with the total tab yet to be decided (Ballew’s suit against Pasadena is slated for 2020). Just recently the city had its liability insurance costs upped by just under an additional $1 million of taxpayers’ money. Welcome to the new normal.
~ KRIS OCKERSHAUSER
CICOPP (Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police)
Organizing for Progress)
Congress should push forward hard with its impeachment inquiry. According to the Mueller Report, President Trump eagerly benefited from Russian interference in the 2016 election without reporting it to the FBI. Then, he repeatedly obstructed the Justice Department’s investigation, which is a crime — obstruction of justice.
The president frequently launches ugly personal attacks on parts of our democracy — Congress people, judges, civil servants, and even civil servants in his own Executive Branch. If a foreign power were to launch such attacks, we would consider them acts hostile to the United States. And President Trump daily violates the Constitution when foreign diplomats pay his company to stay in Trump-owned properties. This is bribery and violates the Emoluments Clause of our Constitution.
President Trump tramples on our democracy like a wannabe tyrant. The remedy for a wannabe tyrant who violates our Constitution and our laws is provided by our Founding Fathers — impeachment.
If we don’t act to protect our democracy, we will lose it. Members of the House have finally undertaken an inquiry into impeaching President Trump. I wish them Godspeed.
~ ALEXANDRA HOPKINS
ON THE BORDER
Are the people of this nation going to stand up for humanity and decency or capitulate to Trump’s corruption and evil child-abuse policies on the border?
Which way are we going to turn?
May our fury roll down like a mighty stream!
~ CLIVE LEEMAN
Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. To share news tips and information about happenings and events, contact Kevin at the address above or call (626) 584-1500, ext. 115. Contact Deputy Editor André Coleman by writing to email@example.com or calling (626) 584-1500, ext. 114.