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Letters to Editors:   Read their opinions.

Kristie's Law addresses a major concern of California's Fourth Appellate Court.

Kristie's Law introduced to the California state legislature in 2004

During the California Senate Judiciary hearing in April 2004, law enforcement lobbyists said they cared about the loss of life to innocent victims of police vehicular pursuits.  They even told the Judiciary Committee they would work with Senator Sam Aanestad and Senator Gloria Romero, who in 2004 asked to be a co-author of Kristie's Law, but in 2005 Senator Romero, under the direction of law enforcement, authored another bill (SB 719) that does not require officers to follow their own agency's pursuit policy, which surprised many based on Senator Romero's comments in the next paragraph. 

At a April 13, 2004 hearing on Kristie's Law before the Senate Public Safety Committee, law enforcement lobbyists said they wanted to work with legislators on police pursuit legislation.  Senator Romero stated that their offer was "disingenuous."  In 2003, Senator Romero had introduced a bill that would have required officers to follow their pursuit policy and correct a major flaw in the state's law on pursuit practices. Read Jim Phillips' commentary on California's law that

grants law enforcement agencies blanket immunity even if the policy is not followed right here.

Senator Romero said that not one law enforcement official had been to her office to discuss public safety in police pursuits since her bill was blocked in the Assembly, largely because Assembly members knew they would lose law enforcements' coveted endorsement for re-election campaigns. But sadly, in 2005 Senator Romero appears to be no different than the legislators in the Assembly. She joined forces with PORAC and put forth a do-nothing measure. Read about it, right here.

California falls farther and farther behind. While Californians wait for public safety first in police vehicular pursuits, other states like Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, Washington state, Maryland, Missouri, Arizona and just in the news Wisconsin either have or are adopting restrictive pursuit policies because people are saying: "Enough is enough. Other law enforcement agencies are doing it, so what's the problem with California?"

Kristie's Law as it was proposed in 2004
  • Establishes effective statewide guidelines to rectify weaknesses in current police pursuit practices.
  • Supports a clearly defined statewide pursuit policy, allowing officers to pursue violent felons and encourages officers to use safer methods to catch traffic violators and non-violent suspects.  Note: A Department of Justice study reveals that restrictive pursuit policies do not encourage more people to flee.
  • Supports putting the safety of the public and the officers themselves above catching the fleeing suspect. To accomplish this goal, California law enforcement agencies would not only have to adopt a pursuit policy, but officers would be required to follow that policy in order for the public entities to receive immunity from civil liability. Current state law does not require officers to follow their pursuit policy. Consequently, cities and counties who employ officers receive blanket immunity even if officers do not follow their stated policy. Contrary to what law enforcement associations have said, Kristie's Law would not allow officers to be sued.  In fact, as long as officers followed their pursuit policies, cities and counties would have the same immunity that they have today. 
  • Supports public educational opportunities by including questions about pursuits in the written driver's license examination and create school programs on the dangers of pursuits.
Originally, Kristie's Law included stricter penalties for those who flee and officer training. In 2003 four bills for stricter penalties were introduced to the state legislature. Unfortunately, not one of those bills was successful. Coupled with budget constraints, the decision was made to remove stricter penalties from Kristie's bill and support stricter penalties when new legislation is introduced. Because of California's budget situation, training was removed from the bill because once Kristie's Law is passed, law enforcement will incorporate the appropriate information into their vehicular pursuit training classes. 

One wonders when California law enforcement lobbyists will put public safety first.

Law-abiding citizens in California know that Senator Sam Aanestad is bravely stepping out to change the culture of police vehicular pursuits.


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