|BACKGROUND (From the Chief's April 16th report - testimony on April
"In accordance with Section
12021 of the California Penal Code, it is a felony for any person who has
been convicted of a felony anywhere in the world to own or possess a firearm.
Frequently, persons accused of a violation of this code are not prosecuted
to the fullest extent of the law, although it may be considered as a violation
of his/her parole (if applicable). The issue of parolees with guns is a
particularly volatile one, especially here in the City of Sacramento."
California parolees are well schooled by CDC (as noted by the "10-20-LIFE"
flyer attached with this report) when parolees are released. While
we support the Deputy Chief's suggestion that this matter be reviewed,
we would suggest a different course of action as first steps to a long
"The Sacramento Police Department
is recognized as one of the most pro-active police agencies in the state
for its innovations and attentiveness to the problems associated with a
large parole population. Chief Arturo Venegas, Jr. and Deputy Chief Matt
Powers were charter members in the Law Enforcement Consortium , a nationally
recognized advisory group. This organization is both a partner in problem
solving and a "watch dog" of the many complex issues concerning the impacts
of State Department of Corrections policies on local crime."
We've mentioned before that parole reform as it impacts officer safety
is not a new topic to my organization and it's a concern often expressed
by my fellow residents in their personal lives. There still exists
in the ranks of police managers, a paradoxical Them vs Us mentality.
While the virtues of Community Policing are taught to rookies in the academy,
in practice, some areas of policing are off-limits to the average citizen.
Their distrust of us, generated distrust of them.
We have a right to be a watchdog too. And we will continue that
self-appointed role and I believe that most of our peers, local residents,
hope someone will fill those shoes. But it's up to our elected representative
to aid us in that challenge and serve as a catalyst between the law enforcement
professional managers who are resistive and members of the community who
have questions and wish to support and defend good police management and
This brings us near a conclusion. I met with Deputy Chief Powers
in 1995 to seek support from the Law Enforcement Consortium on recommendation
to the Legislature by officers, survivors and concerned citizens on a variety
of issues. Some of these were crafted into law. What struck
me was a level of resistance brought on by fear of litigation by prisoners
rights lawyers. God help us if the day comes, that what we bring
to legislators has to be co-signed by litigators who fill our courts with
nuisance suits from litigious convicts.
The chief opens the door for further dialogue on the subject of well
intentioned prison reforms that seem to work against the interest of the
community and law enforcement:
"An additional problem was
the impact of California's change from an indeterminate sentencing law
(i.e. "Two years to life"), to determinant sentencing (i.e. fixed sentenced
and shorter fixed parole requirements). This significantly reduced deterrent
options available to parole agents. Prison crowding and Department of Corrections
policies further hindered an agent's ability to return parole violators
to prison. More importantly it hindered their equal obligation to successfully
reintegrate former prisoners into the general population."