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DEFENDING NOT DEFUNDING, FINALLY
UNDERSTANDING THE POLITICS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

I have come a long way in the last 6 years. Over the last few months on the gubernatorial campaign trail, I have met with farmers, ranchers, parents, teachers, retired citizens, frontline responders, and most recently, law enforcement. In doing so, I have learned an extraordinary amount of eye-opening particulars, especially about the politics of law enforcement.

This has led me to realize that a Facebook post I made back in 2016 regarding police brutality enabled and supported policies and politics that I now believe to be counterproductive, if not outright dangerous.

Both the conversations I’ve had, and the deeper research they have prompted me to conduct, have expanded my understanding of the topic to such an extent that I now view my statement in 2016 as the biggest professional mistake I have made in my nearly 20 years of public service.

Knowing what I know now, I would like to make amends because I can see that my good intentions were exploited by a system that seeks to perpetuate racial division, instead of taking necessary steps towards healing, and my comments lacked the foundational understanding of very complex issues.

Please allow me to provide some context.

As a society, we have been polarized and divided around the topic of law enforcement, and any time there is a “hot-button” issue, we need to step off of the proverbial battlefield, and examine the issues from the lens of getting to the root cause of the dysfunction.

First off, we need to acknowledge there are real problems in law enforcement. But the commonly perceived issues are amplified by design, and are oftentimes, misdirected.

Secondly, does the US have issues around racism? Yes, of course. But law enforcement officers are not categorically racist just because they are cops. And we need to stop making such allegations while simultaneously digging deeper into the complexity of the systemic dysfunctions facing communities of color, and get to long overdue and necessary root-cause solutions. This conversation needs to happen, and I will dedicate ample time to do so in a future address.

Taking the totality of the data, the accounts shared by both law enforcement and citizens, and the way the information is presented in the media, there exposes a deliberate attempt to use plausible-sounding, but dead-end recommendations to increase, not decrease, racial issues while undermining our law enforcement agencies.

What I did not realize in 2016 is that my misunderstanding of the situation was helping to perpetuate a politically-motivated war being unjustly waged against the law enforcement profession. As such, contrary to my, and so many others’, intention, the relationship between law enforcement and our communities has further deteriorated and real opportunities to heal have been forsaken.

As a part of my campaign, I have been advocating within LE for mandatory malpractice insurance, police union accountability, increased de-escalation training, etc. However, further inspections reveal that while these solutions may sound good, they are more for optics, and will serve as money-making schemes, while coming up short with outcomes and solutions citizens hope for.

What I have learned will help is a focus on the mental health of law enforcement. More officers die by suicide than in the line of duty. What’s causing officers to kill themselves? Organizational betrayal, and a politically-waged war against them leading to moral decay. Stigma in the profession is astronomical. As it currently stands, LE is fleeing their jobs and California at an alarming rate.

While some people may jump to celebrate this, how many have taken the time to ask – “What comes next?” Because there is a next. Even if our current officers go away, crime will not. From the documents I have been shown by LE, what is next if we continue to tear apart, instead of healing our current force is a more militant and detached LE. The training guidelines within the force have been shifting and currently new officers are being indoctrinated through a statist allegiance system that is a threat to the very Constitution and oath they are being sworn to protect – our freedoms, liberties, bodily autonomy, and rights as we know them. We absolutely need to eliminate the “bad apples” but if we get rid of the remaining LE officers with a conscience, it’s over.

At the beginning of Covid, I supported stay-at-home orders and masking while we waited for data to come in. Once it did, I changed my mind. I have done the same concerning law enforcement now that my understanding has been so greatly expanded.

With that said, while I originally apologized back in 2016, I would like to do so again, as well as offer my promise to right some wrongs.

It is clear to me that while we should always strive to remove corruption, (and I am dedicated to this) what has taken place in LE over the years is slightly different, it isn’t as much corruption as it is a very dangerous radicalization under the guise of LE betterment. I cannot stress enough the unequivocal danger of this. This new form of extreme LE that is attempting to undermine and replace the current LE should have no place in a civil society. If we think things are bad now on the streets, we haven’t seen anything yet.

I care deeply about rectifying harm and have had to look within myself to better understand my past assumptions and my role in this, as well as look at LE from the 50,000-foot level. I see the pain I have contributed to and I would like to rectify this mistake. This is why I am going to do something for our first responders that have never been done before.

This is what I will fight for on LE’s behalf:

• Accountability, from the leadership level.

• The return of jobs lost as a result of personal medical decisions.

• Assistance in recuperation and recovery from trauma caused by layoffs and forced retirement.

• Reparations for illegal firings.

• Ensure that business and professional codes make it clear that covid testing and vaccination mandates are never to be mandated.

• Improve community relations by expanding transparency around arrests, proving these arrests are not based on skin color.

• For the long-term, work with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the bodily autonomy of al law enforcement officers.

More extensively, I will advocate the following:

• Eliminate or amend Senate Bill 2; it was misguided legislation and an overreaction to past injustices, real or perceived. It cannot be a solution moving forward. Under its current language, SB 2 will make it nearly impossible for law enforcement to perform their duties. It will discourage new hires from applying, encourage current law enforcement officers to retire early or seek employment out of state, decrease proactive police work which keeps communities safe, and will adversely impact every community in California. There has been a mass exodus of law enforcement in California, we cannot afford to lose more than we already have. Every criminal justice reform endeavor in the last two years has negatively impacted every community in California and the country, crime rates are at an all-time high creating more victims of violent crime in every community and empowering criminal offenders/ career criminals.

• Support qualified immunity for law enforcement; they must have protections if we’re asking them to risk their lives for the communities. Additionally, the removal of qualified immunity would likely create an environment where officers “fail to act” when they reasonably should to save lives. I did not realize earlier that by removing qualified immunity, an officer is less likely to act during a crisis because of the possibility of being sued due to unintended consequences.

• Support funding mental health initiatives for law enforcement, including improving the broken worker’s compensation system for injured officers by removing the bureaucratic red tape which makes navigating the system unnecessarily difficult. More first responders die by suicide in California than in the line of duty, and our communities do not benefit from officers struggling with cumulative stress and untreated trauma. Therefore, we will alleviate antiquated systems to make their jobs easier for them which will in turn improve community relations.

• While I whole-heartedly support vigorous rehabilitation and re-skilling of incarcerated individuals, re- entry into society, and supporting families and communities in ending the pipeline to prisons, we must still hold criminal offenders responsible for their crimes. Laws/policy measures that promote a deterrence effect will always be a stronger solution than “criminal justice reform.” It is well established by industry experts that initiatives like Prop 47, Prop 36, AB 109, and others similar were complete

failed policy measures. It incentivized criminal behavior and created a revolving door within the criminal justice system.

Once past the primary elections, I will conduct many LE ride-alongs for firsthand experience to better understand their real-world challenges. When elected Governor, I will have the Attorney General/DOJ and its agents have adequate resources and funding to conduct its investigations and remain duly sworn. We need to expand whistleblower policies and have our DOJ create a liaison unit to police unions/ associations who can report corruption/misconduct at their respective agency. In addition, we must appoint a law enforcement advisor to my staff who is the central point of contact for all LE-related matters.

Lastly, we need to address the nuance of Black Lives Matter and separate the intentions of citizens to end systemic racism from the corporate structured, non-profit entity of BLM. Our support of BLM must come to an end now that their financial laundering and misappropriation of funds to purchase lavish homes, $32 million in stocks, and $42 million in assets, rather than investing in the very communities of color they are supposed to be supporting, have been uncovered. After misappropriating these funds, we now know that their goal to “heal race relations” is far from legitimate; they have exploited the very issue they claim to want to end.

BLM has called for, and been responsible for, attacks on and murders of law enforcement to perpetuate further hate and division. We will give no more energy to those who act as though hate ends hate when we know that hate will only ever beget more hate. While I adamantly support activities and programs to improve race relations, this “non-profit” is not one of those organizations and we must stop letting ourselves be led toward dead-end solutions.

This is our last chance to pull this nation and California out of a very dangerous cattle chute. If we don’t all come to the table, address all of our deep wounds and trauma, call out the disinformation campaigns and fake solutions, and acknowledge the need to move in a direction that will ensure a beautiful future for our children, we are bound to lose everything.

This is about defending our homes. Defending our neighborhoods and businesses. Defending our future. I know some of what I have shared here will be difficult for certain people to want to embrace, defying as it does the narrow narrative we have been handed, but I am willing to start the conversation. I will start it with a deep and heartfelt apology, and a request for all of us to pull up our chairs and sit at the table for a long-overdue conversation focused on healing.

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