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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Peace Officers Research Association Hopes For Tangible Reform After Chauvin Trial

 April 23, 2021 at 11:58 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 After the death of George Floyd police reforms were spurred across the nation. This year, there are at least 10 bills working their way through the state legislature. And while there have been consistent calls for police reform in recent years, tangible change likely will not happen without the input and participation of members within the law enforcement community. Brian Marvel, who is president of the police officers research association, and a member of the San Diego police department says it's time for police reform to happen. Brian, welcome. Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. So across the country, we've seen a number of police reform initiatives fail after being introduced. Do you think the current moment following the Shovan trial will spur on more tangible change? Speaker 2: 00:44 Yeah, I think you'll see a lot of groups, uh, especially, uh, police unions coming to the table to want to have, uh, concerted discussions on what improving law enforcement looks like. I think in some of those cases, those bills and, uh, police reform ideas were never really brought to the table to where the professionals that were actually out on the street were actually able to have a seat at the table and have a discussion of what that looks like. And I think now there's a little bit more desire to have all stakeholders involved in what crafting that reform and what it looks like to be at the table and have those discussions. Speaker 1: 01:18 You know, much of the focus on these reform initiatives involves mandating a standard for use of force tactics. California now has a standard after Shirley Weber's legislation. Um, you've advocated for a national standard to be set. Do you think that's realistic? Speaker 2: 01:34 I am hoping so. I think the work that we've done here in California can resonate throughout the United States with AB three 92. We also ran Senate bill two 30, uh, which set the standard, uh, through training. We also advocate in Washington DC, and we've been pushing this message for many years, that there needs to be a minimum use of force standard across the board in all 50 States. And I think it starting to resonate with a lot of the elected officials because several years ago we would get pushback. Believe it or not from some folks saying that they didn't really need that, but I think the writing is on the wall. And I think that this time right now is a great opportunity to make this happen. And I think this is where the federal government could actually step up and do it. Right. Speaker 1: 02:16 Other key priorities of proposed reform involve de certifying negligent officers or establishing a duty for officers to intervene if they witnessed the use of excessive force. What do you see as the main obstacles in adopting these practices Speaker 2: 02:31 For here in California? Our biggest concern is, is the makeup of the board. That's going to oversee that, uh, seven of the nine people are pretty much predisposed to be against the peace officer. I don't think you'd find that in any other profession. We obviously advocate for due process and the board should really be like, look, the department and the people that investigated this officer, they've done everything right. They've done it by the book. And we're going to say this officer can no longer be a peace officer here in the state of California, but hopefully we're pushing for a national database. So this officer, uh, when they are stripped of their police licensing, they can't work in any other state. And we think that's extremely important for not just California, Speaker 1: 03:09 A consistent point of criticism for modern policing in America seems to concern training practices as well. Uh, what can be done to raise the standard for training officers across the board? Speaker 2: 03:20 First and foremost, we should be taking a look at our basic police Academy. Currently the hours that are provided are insufficient. And that's just my opinion on that. I think we need to look at expanding the amount of hours. We also are running a educational bill through poor act with Senator port Contino, where officers can still join the police force with a high school diploma, but while they're on the police force. So it'd be a stress and importance to, to seek higher education. I think it's vitally important that we try to provide opportunities for officers to get as much education as they can, but also with that expanding the police Academy. So we can encompass those courses on dealing with mental health, dealing with wellness, dealing with homelessness issues and dealing with the other variety of issues that we deal with in law enforcement today, I think would be a big movement in the right direction for improving standards and training. What Speaker 1: 04:10 Do you think could be done to improve hiring practices? Speaker 2: 04:13 It would be nice to see elected officials coming out saying, Hey, you know what, policing and keeping our communities safe is a super high priority. And we want all the best possible candidates we can from all the communities that we serve. And I think there is not enough emphasis placed on communities of, uh, people of color to join the police force. And I think some of that comes down to some of the elected officials. There's so much negativity on being a police officer. Now that a lot of people are saying, you know, I really don't want to do this profession, which hampers our ability to recruit the people that we need within this profession. So while we're working on incruitment improving education, improving the police Academy, the basic police Academy and providing opportunities, being a police, officer's a great middle-class job that provides a pension that provides very good pay. We should be trying to get people to want to go into this profession, to serve their communities and make it better. Speaker 1: 05:02 As someone coming from within the law enforcement community, you've got to walk a fine line in critiquing police practices while also advocating for the role of rank and file officers. How do you think current attitudes towards policing in the nation will affect efforts to enact reform? Speaker 2: 05:18 Well, I think, you know, we're obviously in the, uh, police union business, you know, we're a little bit on the defensive, but we, it's not like we don't want to come to the table and have these discussions. We're willing to come to the table and have some hard discussions on what policing looks like and where it needs to go in the future. We have to recognize that we need those professionals at the table to have those discussions. It can't be a one-sided conversation where the only people that are crafted in the laws are the people that have never done the job. I don't think it's an effective way to create laws that benefit everybody. Speaker 1: 05:49 I've been speaking with Brian Marvel, president of the police officers research association, and a member of the San Diego police department. Brian, thanks for joining us. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

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As the public continues to focus a critical eye on police departments across the nation, there are at least 10 related bills currently working their way through the California legislature to affect change in policing.
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