CA lawmakers address conflicts of interest in police investigations

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — California lawmakers on Thursday unveiled a proposal to hold prosecutors accountable when they investigate police misconduct.

Some Democratic state lawmakers are aiming to take money out of the equation when California prosecutors investigate police.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta Thursday unveiled a new proposed law that would prohibit prosecutors from investigating law enforcement misconduct if they’ve received campaign contributions from the agency.

“To make sure that our prosecutors are trusted in their independence, their fairness, and their ability to follow the facts and do their jobs which is to do justice,” Bonta said.

A handful of district attorney joined Bonta for Thursday’s announcement. They say they will no longer accept money from police unions.

Officials say about 95% of California prosecutors have taken campaign contributions from cops.

“Public trust in government as well as in law enforcement has been badly and in many ways, and justifiably, corroded,” San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said.

If they’ve taken money from a law enforcement agency in need of investigation, prosecutors would have to recuse themselves. But who would take over the investigation is still to be determined. 

Bonta says the bill in its current form does not punish prosecutors, but would leave it up to the state bar to determine if they violated ethical standards.

“We don’t view it as a penalty, we see it as an investment,” Bonta said.

Some police unions are already speaking out against the bill.

The Oakland Police Officer’s Association says this would silence the voices of the men and women who risk their lives protecting our communities, saying this would be a violation of free speech. 

Bill details are still developing.

Bonta will formally introduce the bill on the first day of the new legislative session in December.

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