Responsibility, authority, accountability

by Jim Phillips, president of

The dirty little secret is that California Law Enforcement would rather not discuss the real reason for opposition to Senator Sam Aanestad's Kristie's Law—accountability.

As a society we delegate the responsibility of the preservation of public safety to Law Enforcement agencies. We empower them with the authority and tools to accomplish this goal. We ask that they operate within statutory authority and that they conduct their operations within the scope of policies that reflect best practices as dictated by experience, research and common sense. Responsibility. Authority. Accountability. All three are necessary for effective and responsive public policy, no mater what agency we are talking about.

In 1987 the California legislature passed a bill that awarded Blanket Immunity to all Law Enforcement agencies that simply adopted a pursuit policy that met rudimentary standards. In a shocking lack of judgment they neglected to require the agency to follow that policy.

In 2002 the State Appeals Court dubbed this a "get out of liability free card" in Nguyen v. City of Westminster. As a result California, often the vanguard of progressive and innovative ideas, clings to outdated, dangerous and scandalously inept pursuit policy and practice and the citizens of California pay for it with their blood. SB 719 does not address this issue and as a result will perpetuate the status quo.

(Read Jim's analysis on California's Vehicle Code.)