September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Attorney General Bonta announces Bakersfield Police Department reforms

California

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGET) — Attorney General Rob Bonta on Monday announced reforms to be implemented at the Bakersfield Police Department following a yearslong investigation that found the department’s conduct “resulted in the use of unreasonable force, as well as unreasonable stops, searches, arrests and seizures.”

The Department of Justice, the police department and the city of Bakersfield entered into a stipulated judgment in which reforms will be enacted during a five-year plan, Bonta said.

“Where there’s injustice, we must correct it,” Bonta said. “This agreement with the city and its police department will help make that happen. The findings of our investigation demonstrate how critical it is that we act. These reforms are both needed and necessary.”

Among the changes, the BPD will revise use-of-force policies, modify canine-related policies and training, require any action above a standard handcuffing to be reported, hold officers accountable for omissions and inaccuracies in use-of-force statements, and require supervisory investigations for all reported uses of force.

Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry said he believes the DOJ’s concerns were unfounded.

There were two courses of action in response to the state’s investigation: engage in costly legal proceedings or come to an agreement without any finding of fault.

“The choice came down to litigating the past or controlling our future, reassuring our community and moving forward in a positive way,” Terry said.

He said the agreement is detailed and in many ways exceeds state law, reflecting improvements the department already made or was in the process of making.

Late last year, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office entered into a similar settlement after an investigation into allegations of excessive use of force, unreasonable stops, searches and seizures, and a failure to exercise appropriate management and supervision of deputies both on patrol and in the county’s jails. 

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