San Bernardino Needs To Get Serious About Public Safety

As the City of San Bernardino under the failed leadership of Mayor Pat Morris is putting public safety on the back burner, crime is on the rise.

Including attacks against police Officers.

According to the San Bernardino Sun:

More than 6,000 peace officers in San Bernardino County have been victims of assaults and threats in the last three years, including 2,100 in 2012 alone. More than 600 of the 2012 incidents involved felonies, including officers being struck, shot at or threatened with injury or death.

Prosecutors from San Bernardino County are hearing more and more of these reports lately, which include incidents both on the streets and in the jails.

A continued rise in these attacks on law enforcement is anticipated y due to the “early release” program of Governor Brown.

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told the San Bernardino Sun that attacks on sheriff’s deputies working the jails have increased by 50 percent since the state’s prison realignment program went into effect.

As has been widely reported, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos announced the launching of a Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit in response to these attacks.

The team will be made up of two deputy district attorneys and a victims’ advocate working together on the prosecution of crimes of this type.

In an article by The Press-Enterprise, Ramos promised that “plea bargains” will be reduced and stated, “We just want to make sure that when (officers are) on the streets facing the worst of the worst, the DA’s office has their backs.”

The plan is to make sure people convicted of these crimes don’t end up in a county jail, but are housed in State Prisons, where they qualify.

Ramos also plans to have the team trained in peace officer use-of-force tactics.

The report continued, stating that advocates of law enforcement say such a distinction is appropriate because a person who would attack a peace officer wouldn’t think twice about committing serious crimes against the public.

The FBI released the statistics on law enforcement officers killed and assaulted in 2010.

More than 53,000 officers were assaulted in 2010, with 56 officers killed in the line of duty.

Of the 69 suspects identified in these deaths, 57 had a criminal history and 19 were under judicial supervision at the time of the incident.

Charging Assault and Battery on a Peace Officer

There are 2 types of battery that you can be charged with, “simple” and “aggravated” battery, which includes (but is not limited to):

  • Swinging ones arms to get away and striking an officer, (including a “push”);
  • Driving unsafely and come close to police officer with ones car (assault with a vehicle is also considered assault with a dangerous/deadly weapon);
  • Any physical contact during the course of an arrest.

 Simple vs. aggravated battery

“Battery on a peace officer” is a “wobbler” meaning that it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the injuries and the circumstances of the offense.

Simple” battery, occurs when the victim suffers little to no injury. The penalty for misdemeanor battery is up to 1 year in the county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Aggravated” battery occurs when the officer suffers a more significant injury, which is defined in Penal Code 243(c)(1) as any physical injury requiring professional medical treatment.

The “injury” must be serious enough that it impairs physical activity, or interferes with the officer’s duties. Examples might include a wound requiring extensive stitches, a concussion, broken bones, or disfigurement.

Whether or not the officer actually receives medical treatment is irrelevant. In People v. Longoria (1995), the court found that “it is the nature, extent, and seriousness of the injury-not the inclination or disinclination of the victim to seek medical treatment-which is determinative.” The test is objective and factual.

Battery on a Peace Officer and California’s Three Strikes Law

A battery on a peace officer conviction will result in a “strike” on ones record, if:

1. You inflict “great bodily injury” on the officer, or

2. The offense involves an “assault with a deadly weapon.”

If a suspect is subsequently charged with a felony and has a prior “strike” on their criminal record, the suspect will be referred to as a “second striker,” and their sentence will be twice the term otherwise required by law.

If the suspect has two prior strikes, they will be referred to as a “third striker” and will serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years-to-life in a California state prison.

At a time when crime is on the rise, Mayor Morris and his City Council cronies should be making the safety of San Bernardino’s neighborhoods and families their top priority.

They are not and the effects are showing.

If criminals are willing to attack armed and trained police officers, what does this mean for the safety of regular law abiding residents who come in contact with these violent felons?