September 9, 2005
Hello, members of PORAC, Senator Romero (via her web site feedback form), and Ms. Karen Pank,
On behalf of California victims of pursuit, I have been asked to inquire about the following concerns we have regarding Senate Bill 719. We are hopeful that your answers to the following questions will shed light on some of our concerns and help us understand what SB 719 will do.
1. Regarding restitution to innocent victims, what is the difference between the restitution victims receive today and what they will receive if SB 719 becomes law?
Please be specific. Under existing law, families of victims already receive state money from a victims fund for funeral and burial expenses and injured parties receive restitution for medical expenses.
2. What additional pursuit training for officers will SB 719 provide?
After reviewing the changes to SB 719 by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, I concluded that there is no guarantee officers will receive "additional" pursuit training since POST already requires two hours of pursuit training for officers each year.
3. Why does SB 719 maintain the status quo on penalties for fleeing?
And, how will SB 719 guarantee that those convicted of fleeing receive more jail time than what they would have received under the existing law?
Under SB 719, penalties are still discretionary (not mandatory) and the increases in jail time (if given) are minimal. I just remember that at every Senate Hearing on this issue, law enforcement groups continually stated that fleeing should be a felony. Victims of pursuit agree that fleeing, no matter what the outcome, should be a felony.
4. When a fleeing suspect kills an officer or innocent victim, how will the increased penalties in SB 719 make a difference?
And, regarding deaths and injuries to the innocent, what impact will SB 719 have in our courts?
These questions are being asked because typically when an innocent victim or officer is killed in a pursuit, the fleeing suspect is charged with "second-degree murder" or "vehicular manslaughter," apparently overriding the penalties in SB 719.
5. With more and more juveniles fleeing from police, why weren't penalties for juveniles who flee addressed in SB 719?
And, if they could not be addressed in SB 719, why weren't they addressed in a companion bill?
6. Today, if a pursuit results in deaths or injuries to innocent victims, the involved law enforcement agency does not have to prove in a court of law that officers followed their vehicular pursuit policy once it is judged that the agency has a pursuit policy that meets the state's four minimum standards. How will SB 719 change this flaw in our state law, so victims of pursuit can know with confidence that the officers did follow their pursuit policy?
Please be specific. We are looking for proof that there will be accountability, not just that an agency has a policy or an officer had pursuit training.
7. Why must the citizens of California wait until July 1, 2007, for this bill to take effect?
Thank you very much for answering these important questions. These questions are posted on the Kristie's Law Web site. As soon as I receive your response, I will post your answers.