Bill Watch Police

Beneath Their Rival Efforts to Reduce Police Shootings, Two Lawmakers Share One Common Experience as Mothers

WLA Guest
Written by WLA Guest

By Laurel Rosenhall, CALmatters

To reduce the use of force by California police, two Democrats began with competing approaches:

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a firebrand from a liberal San Diego district, aimed to crack down by setting a tougher standard for justifiable police shootings.

Sen. Anna Caballero, a centrist who flipped a red Central Valley district blue, introduced a police-backed vision to reduce deadly force through improved officer training.

Yet as mothers—one African American, the other Latina—both lawmakers have had remarkably similar experiences in one respect: They instructed their teenage sons to cautiously navigate encounters with police, and they ultimately felt the police did not treat their sons fairly.

“It’s a difficult conversation to have,” Caballero says in an interview for “Force Of Law,” a podcast that’s following California’s effort this year to reduce police shootings.

“As a woman of color you have to tell your boys… ‘I don’t care what’s going on… You’re going to follow the instructions and you’re going to do exactly what they say, because they’re not going to know you, and they’re going to see you as a Mexican kid.’”

In the same episode, Weber recalls her son being stopped by police on the campus of San Diego State University, where she was a professor of Africana studies.

“They would go through his car, sit him on the curb… and then they’d eventually go to the glove compartment and realize, ‘Oh, this truck is registered to Shirley Weber,’” she says.

“And immediately everybody would get nervous because they knew I was gonna call the police… for the campus and say, ‘Why are you still stopping my son, when you haven’t stopped anybody else? He wasn’t driving fast. He didn’t run a light. He was just coming out of the gym exercising and you stop him.’”

Weber’s bill, now advancing through the Legislature, would declare that police use of force is allowed only when “necessary in defense of human life.” That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says police can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.”

That bill initially faced fierce police opposition, and has been amended into a compromise between law enforcement and civil rights advocates. The American Civil Liberties Union still champions the bill, Black Lives Matter withdrew its support, and police groups shifted from fighting it to being “neutral.”

Now it has become a companion to Caballero’s police-sponsored bill, which would require all law enforcement departments in California to adopt policies stating that officers must carry out their duties, including the use of force, “in a manner that is fair and unbiased.” It also would require basic officer training to include lessons on cultural competency and overcoming bias.

California lawmakers have been wrestling with how to respond following the death of Stephon Clark, a black man who was unarmed when Sacramento Police shot him in his grandparents’ backyard, mistaking the cell phone he was holding for a gun.

But the issue is much broader than one incident: The debate in the Capitol reflects growing concern about the disproportionate toll police shootings take on people of color. In California, 63 percent of the people killed in 2017 were African American or Latino, according to the state Department of Justice. Together, those two groups make up 46 percent of the state’s population.

Nor are Weber and Caballero the only politicians who have shared how profoundly personal the issue is for them. The debate has prompted anguished lawmakers to speak about their own encounters with police or their experiences as former officers, their fears about the safety of their relatives who wear a badge or their worries that their loved ones could be victimized by someone wearing a badge.

Hear these stories and learn how lawmakers struck a deal on the use-of-force bill on Episode 3 of “Force Of Law.”

Find it where you usually download podcasts, or listen to the third episode here:

Force of Law is a podcast produced by CALmatters and Studiotobe.


Laurel Rosenhall covers politics for CALmatters, where this story first appeared.

Image: California Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (left) and State Sen. Anna Caballero are shown in a composite—the debate over policing revealed their differences and a striking similarity.

7 Comments

  • Celeste….really? How perfectly appropriate (and typical) that WitnessLA excrete more anti-cop drivel at a time when we’re dealing with the murder of Officer Tara O’Sullivan in Sacramento and the burial of LASD Deputy Gilbert Solano.

    Horror of horrors that Caballero “as a woman of color..” has to tell her boys, “You’re going to follow the instructions and you’re going to do exactly what they say, because…they’re going to see you as a Mexican kid.” Sage advice, Senator…but leave out the race nonsense.

    And, of course, the lazy one liner of “Stephon Clark, a black man who was unarmed when Sacramento Police shot him in his grandparents’ backyard, mistaking the cell phone he was holding for a gun,” omits the, “after beating his kid’s mother, researching ways to commit suicide, breaking into numerous cars, attempting to break into an elderly neighbor’s house WHILE the neighbor was inside, jumping over fences, ignoring cops orders and charging the cops with a black object in his hand in a dark backyard….ALL while high on alcohol and marijuana”

    These two race-baiting idiots should consider where they live….CALIFORNIA. Both imply racism is the reason their little angels get stopped by police, but white cops are becoming increasingly rare on police departments in this state. Continuing to suggest racism is the root cause of black and brown people being stopped and arrested is gonna make less and less sense as police departments become more black and brown.

  • “Professor of Africana studies” pretty much says it all. The other one looks like your basic Middle Aged white lady so she’s probably laying on the “person of color” nonsense to get elected. Judging by who’s now supporting/ no longer supporting the bill, it’s probably been watered down sufficiently to where it’s not going to cause too much mischief.

  • Africana studies….my partner (also Latino) used to joke about all the people paying tuition for Chicano Studies and the AMAZING job market waiting for them with those degrees.

    Here’s an example of how constant, liberal media attacks such as these articles published on WitnessLA have emboldened the public to disrespect, taunt and attack police. ANYTHING the police do now will end them up in court facing either civil or criminal prosecution by leaders who are on their knees to the (mainly black and brown) community.

    As Officer Tara O’Sullivan, 26, lay dying on the ground, these idiots thought it was a perfect time to harass cops on the perimeter.

    https://www.crimeonline.com/2019/06/20/outrage-police-heckled-called-cowards-as-they-respond-to-shooting-that-left-young-officer-dead-video/

    • You can’t truly say that the ignorant few represents the majority of people in that neighborhood no more than dirty cops representing the majority of LEO’s.

      How many times have you handled a call (in most neighborhoods) without the ignorant few?

      Don’t paint everyone with a broad brush as no “decent” human being jeers or taunts when someone is injured or killed.

  • LASD Apostle, thanks for sharing the video. However, what happened to the first amendment? Isn’t that what our patriots in service died for, so people can call officers punks and cowards. Perhaps you should ask yourselves why people feel this way. I’m sure you long for the days when there were no smartphones.

  • I looked up nationwide statistics and according to the Washington Post in 2017 there were 987 fatal police shootings. 223 were Black, 179 were Latino thus leaving 585 to be White/other (Asian,Native American, Pacific Islander, Middle East). What is the problem here with these two democrat’s?

  • This is the new narrative for the LibTurds, write and talk about emotional, incendiary topics (race), which will get the public “fired up.” What is really frustrating and pathetic, is that the LibTurds are the people who keep playing the race card.

    Ponder these stats and tell me if law enforcement is to blame:

    13% of the population (blacks), comprise 90% of the crimes? Why do Blacks make up a significant portion (37%-2013) of the prison population? Why do Blacks, have the highest (72%) born out of wedlock condition. Why did 69% of the black population, nationwide, graduate from high school? Why did only 52% (2010) graduate from high school?

    Based on the aforementioned stats, it appears that there is a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed and law enforcement is not one of them.

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