Settlement between KCSO and Justice Department draws mixed reactions | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2020-12-23 20:31:00 –

The settlement agreement between the California Department of Justice and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office responded in various ways the day after the announcement.

The agreement requires the KCSO to develop an extensive list of reforms over the next five years with the aim of ensuring that the sector protects the constitutional rights of citizens and treats them with respect and dignity. ..

After a four-year investigation into the sheriff’s office, the state DOJ determined that the ministry was involved in patterns of unconstitutional violations, including improper use of force, improper search and seizure, and improper management. The DOJ also alleged that the KCSO violated state law in exercising deadly forces against persons with disabilities, failing to provide equal employment opportunities, and handling civilian complaints.

However, as part of an arrangement with Kern County, the DOJ withdrew civil lawsuits against the county and department in exchange for the cooperation of the sheriff’s office in implementing the reforms.

The 59-page settlement filed with the Kern County Superior Court requires more than 12 changes to the sheriff’s office over the next five years and requires independent monitoring to ensure these changes are made.

The union, which represents KCSO’s management and staff, supported the settlement with the Khan Law Enforcement Association, which represents lawmakers, and repeated Sheriff Donnie Youngblood’s denial that the ministry had a constitutional violation.

“We are confident and supportive of the allegations and no violations of the law,” said Marcus Monker, president of KLEA.

He said the union would open its arms and welcome the reconciliation, adding that it believes the agreement attests to the concerns that KLEA has raised with the oversight committee over the years, especially the low staffing. ..

“For us and our members, this is a victory for us,” he said. “There are a lot of things to point out about lack of staff. Everyone, or which, can start or cause a lack of the right or necessary staff to complete a task. I think companies can understand it. Other problems. “

Lieutenant Kevin Wright, chairman of the Kern County Sheriff’s Command, also favored the agreement.

“I think everyone is happy that this has finally come to a conclusion and isn’t just hanging there all the time,” he said. “This gives us a solid game plan to follow. I think this is really the next goal to ensure that we comply with the terms agreed in the documentation.”

Still, David Cohn, managing partner of the local law firm Chain Cohn Stiles, criticized the Justice Department for settling in the sheriff’s office.

“I think it’s meant to make the Attorney General feel better. I don’t think it makes any sense,” he said. “I don’t think it has a meaningful impact on how the Kern County Sheriff’s Office handles the issue of excessive power within the department.”

He has been responsible for collecting more than $ 20 million in damages against the sheriff’s office since Young Blood was first elected, and KCSO’s actions in an ongoing settlement lawsuit. He said he didn’t expect this new agreement to happen unless he began to change.

“Do you see one of the political leaders, or one of the supervisors tells the sheriff,” I want meaningful reforms, we’re tired of paying for these claims. ” Do you see it? “He commented on the lack of a public statement from a local leader. “It’s a business as usual. Nothing changes.”

But some who have sought change have found hope in a new agreement.

“This is a really big issue, and overall, I think the use of armed policy reform is great overall,” said Stephanie Padilla, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California.

She described herself as happy with the DOJ’s actions, but warned of expectations that the KCSO would change its culture rapidly.

“There are various patterns and practices built into KCSO, many of which are honestly racists and we don’t want to minimize the fact that they take time to eradicate,” she says. I did. “This won’t happen overnight.” We’ve signed this agreement, and now everything suddenly will be better next year or two. “Make sure the changes we want to see. There is a long way to go to be seen in. “

You can reach Sammorgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @ smorgenTBC.

Settlement between KCSO and Justice Department draws mixed reactions | News Source link Settlement between KCSO and Justice Department draws mixed reactions | News

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