California Is Scoring Police -- And the Grades Are Bad

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 03, 2019 6:00 AM

Crime Watch used to mean an organization of neighbors who watched out for each other. But times have changed.

Californians, for example, now have something called Police Scorecard. It's a new website that keeps watch on law enforcement by assigning grades to 100 large police departments in the state. According to the organization, 49 percent of the people who were killed or injured by police were also unarmed. That's 100 percent bad for the victims.

Deadliest Forces

Campaign Zero launched Police Scorecard as part of a new initiative. The organization says police reforms are needed everywhere "to effectively evaluate each law enforcement agency and hold them accountable to measurable results." Based on statistics from 2016 and 2017, the deadliest police forces include:

  • San Bernardino
  • Stockton
  • Long Beach
  • Fremont
  • Bakersfield

According to reports, these cities used deadly force at substantially higher rates than other major cities in California. San Jose and Los Angeles police used deadly force three times the rate of police in San Francisco and San Diego.

Best and Worst

Carlsbad, a seaside community in North San Diego County, had the best-performing department on the Police Scorecard. Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles suburb of the rich-and-famous, had the worst. In a surprising turn-around, Oakland police had one of the lowest rates for deadly force. It was a remarkable grade for the local police, who have been scrutinized for shooting and killing homeless people and beating residents.

The Police Scorecard is designed to raise local awareness and promote police reforms at the grass-roots level. But citizens can also move the needle by understanding their rights. For example, excessive force refers to refers to situations where government officials legally entitled to use force exceed the minimum amount necessary to diffuse an incident or to protect themselves or others from harm.

When it involves law enforcement, often during an arrest, it's typically referred to as police brutality. In the Oakland homeless cases, where the decedents were reportedly unconscious or roused from sleep, it could also be charged as murder.

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