News From San Francisco and Around the Bay

Bill Would Change Requirements For Safely Storing Firearms in Vehicles for Law Enforcement Officers

A bill introduced to the state Senate Tuesday would step up safety measures for handguns left in vehicles by law enforcement, according to state officials.

Senate Bill 869, introduced by state Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, would require law enforcement officers to securely stow any handgun they leave in vehicles.

According to state officials, under current state law peace officers are exempt from the safety requirements for guns left in a car that apply to everyone else.

Senate bill 869 would explicitly require that any person that leaves a handgun in a vehicle must lock the handgun in the vehicle’s trunk, or place it in a locked container that is out of plain sight in the vehicle.

“This is a matter of basic public safety and common sense,” Senator Hill said in a statement. “My bill would ensure that the requirements for safe gun storage in vehicles are the same for everyone in California – law enforcement officers and civilians.”

SB 869 comes in response to two incidents involving guns stolen from law enforcement officer’s vehicles last year that left two people dead in San Francisco and Oakland.

Additional incidents of theft of firearms from officer’s vehicles include a gun belonging to a Hayward police officer being stolen from a car in Oakland last August, and a gun belonging to the chief of UC Berkeley Police being stolen from her car while she was jogging, also in August. State officials said a violation would be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

Oakland Lawmaker Authors Bill Aimed at Addressing Impact of Childhood Trauma

State officials Tuesday announced legislation aimed at addressing the impact of childhood trauma by bolstering mental health services at elementary schools.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, authored the bill, AB 1644, with support from California Attorney General Kamala Harris and an advocacy organization.

According to Harris’ office, the bill would start a four-year pilot program to aid elementary schools in establishing mental health services for students.

This effort would be particularly focused on schools in communities with higher rates of childhood trauma incidences, according to Harris’ office.

“This legislation will connect our most vulnerable children with the support they need and is a smart investment in the health and safety of our state,” Harris said in a statement.

The bill is said to build on previously existing state efforts – such as the now-defunded Early Mental Health Initiative – to help elementary school students who have experienced trouble adjusting to a school setting. Without it being addressed, childhood trauma can reportedly leave kids less prepared for school and cause them to be more likely to exhibit anxiety, withdrawal and aggressive behavior.
Addressing these issues is a way of addressing the root causes of crime, according to state officials.

“A child’s exposure to trauma is one of the greatest public health threats of our time, seriously compromising a child’s long-term physical and emotional well-being,” Bonta said in a statement. An advocacy group, Children Now, is helping to advance the legislation.

Ted Lempert, president of the group, said in a statement that the bill represented a chance to allow young victims of trauma “reach their full potential.”

Supervisors Call for Apology to Family of Mario Woods, Federal Investigation Into Police Shooting

San Francisco Supervisors Tuesday called for an independent federal investigation into the police shooting of Mario Woods and a formal apology to Woods’ family.

In a meeting attended by Woods’ mother, Gwendolyn Woods, supervisors introduced a number of measures intended to step up scrutiny of the shooting and the police department following the Dec. 2 shooting. Videos of the shooting, circulated widely on social media, appear to show officers encircling and firing at Woods as he started to walk away from them. The footage has galvanized those calling for police reform in San Francisco.

Board President London Breed Tuesday introduced a measure with Supervisor Malia Cohen calling for an investigation by the U.S Department of Justice, saying a probe by an independent outside agency was necessary to establish community trust and help make sure that deaths like Woods’ never happen again.

“These items are so important to me because I know the pain of folks here today, I have felt it myself,” Breed said. “I have mourned the loss of far too many young African Americans in my life and since Dec. 2, I have mourned another.”

Supervisor David Campos introduced a measure calling for the board to offer its condolences and apologies to Gwendolyn Woods and make a commitment to “meaningful police reform.” He and other supervisors including John Avalos and Jane Kim also offered their personal apologies and condolences in an emotional scene.

“Beyond remembering your son, who has become a symbol, what this resolution does is it puts the Board of Supervisors on record for the very first time saying officially that we need comprehensive police reform in San Francisco,” Campos said.

Campos said that after speaking with Gwendolyn Woods he realized that he had had similar conversations with the families of previous police shooting victims in his district, Alex Nieto and Amilcar Perez-Lopez. He noted that the board had rejected a previous resolution in 2014 calling for police reform, and wondered “if we had gotten it right with Alex Nieto, if we had gotten it right with Amilcar Perez-Lopez, would we be here today?” Addressing the board, Gwendolyn Woods said she and Mario had been born and raised in San Francisco, and that she remembered the city as a more diverse and “embracing” place. She choked back tears, however, as she demanded to know why the officers who had shot her son “like an animal” were back on the job.

“Thank you for the apology, but somebody please tell me why they’re still back at work,” Gwendolyn said. “I don’t get it.” A police spokesperson said the officers have been assigned to non-patrol duties while the shooting is under review, as dictated by department policy.

Breed also introduced a measure calling for the city to create a reward fund for information leading to arrests and convictions in unsolved homicides. Breed said the meaure would establish clear criteria for the use of rewards, which the city until now has handled in an ad hoc way, without any established funding or clear policies in place for their use.

(News by Bay City News)