The day may yet come when the California legislature proposes a new bill that will actually improve the lives of its citizens, my friends, but today is not that day. The latest bit of madness to come out of the Golden State is known as Senate Bill 271, and it’s clearly designed to make people less safe rather than safer.
Currently, anyone wishing to run for Sheriff in any of California’s counties must have either a certification of competence from the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training or recent, equivalent salaried law enforcement experience. Makes sense, right? If you’re going to put someone in charge of a major law enforcement agency, it might be nice if they actually knew something about law enforcement and the challenges that officers face out on the streets. But SB-271 would eliminate that requirement entirely. The stated reason is clear. They want people who are interested in reforming, defunding or abolishing the police to be able to run for the position. (The Appeal)
California lawmakers are proposing to overturn a requirement that sheriff candidates have a law enforcement background. If passed, Senate Bill 271 would open up new avenues for change by enabling anyone to run for sheriff, including people who are working to transform policing and criminal justice practices but who are barred from this office.
“Sheriff is one of the most powerful elected offices,” said state Senator Scott Wiener, who sponsored the bill, which was introduced Thursday. “For 139 years, from 1850 to 1989, anyone could run for sheriff and the people could select who they wanted to hold this very powerful and impactful position.”
The law the bill seeks to repeal was put in place after Michael Hennessey was elected as Sheriff in San Francisco in 1979. Hennessey ran on a platform of “reforming law enforcement” and other promises similar to what we’ve been hearing in major cities around the country today. The start of his tenure was immediately marked by large jailbreaks and other irregularities. He appointed an ex-convict to run the jail’s rehabilitation program and frequently seemed more interested in prosecuting his own deputies than the criminals they apprehended. After some lobbying by the California State Sheriff’s Association, the new law requiring law enforcement experience was passed in 1989.
If any Californians thinking of supporting this bill are looking for real-world examples to go by, there are some of them out there. We’ve already seen what happens when you hire people who oppose enforcing the law to run law enforcement agencies. Look no further than Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, one of the most glaring examples of nominative determinism currently in circulation. She was selected to lead the cops in Philly by Mayor Jim Kenney, who ran on a platform of “reforming” the police. Outlaw immediately went to work on emptying the jails and cracking down on her own cops.
The result? Crime rates have been on the rise in Philadelphia ever since, and the trend has only accelerated with the onset of the pandemic and the social justice riots and unrest. Fewer cops, who are less motivated to get out of their squad cars for fear of losing their jobs or their freedom if a suspect gets violent, create an opening for criminals and gang members. And not all criminals are stupid. In fact, we’ve been witnessing spikes in crime rates in pretty much every city where all of this Defund the Police insanity has been embraced.
And now California is looking at opening the door for the same pattern to repeat itself in the Sheriff’s Departments around the state. Yet again, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Will California really go down this road or will they look around, realize what’s been going on and opt for sanity? I wouldn’t bet the entire ranch on the better outcome here.