Culver City Observer -

Officer Safety Bills Stall in Appropriations Committee

 


As acts of violence and threats towards

code enforcement officers rise,

two California Senate bills aimed at increasing

safety measures have stalled

after being placed on the Senate Appropriations

Committee’s suspense

file. At a time when violent acts against

code enforcement officers are on the

rise, stalling these two bills on the suspense

file is particularly alarming.

In many jurisdictions, code enforcement

officers are now tasked with

enforcement of various violations traditionally

addressed by sworn police/

sheriff personnel. These violations

include, but are not limited to, illegal

cannabis operations, illicit massage

operations and homeless encampment

abatement. Code enforcement officers

are also the first-line enforcers of

COVID-19 regulations, and do considerable

enforcement against slumlords

who operate in underserved communities.

Since 2015, the California Association

of Code Enforcement Officers

(CACEO) has received 86 reports of

safety incidents including, but not limited

to: nine death threats, 11 physical

assaults, 10 occurrences of weapon

brandishing, 17 physical threats, and

six stalking incidents. Tragically, 20

code enforcement officers have given

their lives over the years. Because

there is no requirement to report safety

incidents to CACEO, the true numbers

are likely higher than the aforementioned

figures indicate.

In January, a Sacramento County inspector

was stabbed outside of a strip

mall. The week prior, a Tracy resident

was accused of attempted homicide after

he intentionally hit a code enforcement

officer with his vehicle. Sadly,

these are just two recent examples of

the many incidents of homicide or attempted

homicide on a code enforcement

officer in recent years.

Earlier this year, CACEO introduced

Senate Bills 101 and 296 which are

aimed at increasing code enforcement

officer safety. Senate Bill 101, sponsored

by Senator Jim Nielsen, would

close the loophole in existing law by

prohibiting the disclosure of the home

addresses of code enforcement officers

by the Department of Motor Vehicles

(DMV).

Senate Bill 296, sponsored by Senator

Monique Limón, would require cities

and counties to establish safety protocols

specific to the duties and risks

faced by code enforcement officers in

their particular jurisdictions. Currently,

many jurisdictions do not have programs

to properly train and help protect

code enforcement officers from

threats, assaults, batteries, or worse.

Both senate bills have been placed

on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s

suspense file. The suspense file

is where the committee pigeon holes

all bills that are purported to have cost

issues. This despite the fact that SB

101 includes language which provides

that all costs associated with its adoption

will be covered through a fee paid

by the applicant for the service provided

by the DMV. SB 296 also does

not require new spending or costs. As

written, jurisdictions will retain the control

to design and implement training

and safety protocols within their existing

budgets based on the dynamics of

their community.

CACEO is urging the Senate Appropriations

Committee to remove both

bills from the suspense file to allow

them to proceed with the legislative

process.

 

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