Legislative Committee Takes Up Topic of Police Brutality

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The Select Committee on Boys and Men of Color took on the troublesome topic of police violence Tuesday at the state capitol. It heard from panels of community members and law enforcement to get some direction for legislation that might address the issue.

Some acknowledged that the lack of support for young men in poor and challenged neighborhoods leads down a path of crime. A comprehensive approach from law enforcement, schools and community organizations was suggested as a way to head off a life of chronic crime for young men.

"No kid aspires to go to jail or to juvenile hall," said Assemblymember and former sheriff's captain Jim Cooper.

He said nothing will change until poor communities get better schools, recreational opportunities, grocery stores, banks and job opportunities.

"That's what it comes down to, putting money into those communities ... once you do that, that will address a number of issues," Cooper said.

In the meantime, attitudes by police may continued to be shaped by
the behavior of disadvantaged boys and men.

"Sometimes people, based on their personal viewpoints, may unintentionally discriminate against others in determining who they choose to stop, search or subject to a frisk," said Chauncee Smith, racial justice advocate for the ACLU.

Sammy Nunez with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin said changing the culture of youth crime won't be easy, as evidenced by a multiple shooting incidents in Stockton overnight.

"It's certainly not going to happen overnight to reverse some of the trends where folks have been used to dealing with conflicts in a violent way," Nunez said.

The committee heard suggestions from witnesses that included independent investigation of police shooting incidents, a data gathering mechanism to assess the incidents of officer involved shootings and measures to support school programs.

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