What's Gotten Into Jim Cooper?



By Amber Enderton | February 1, 2017 |  

Jim Cooper, veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and current Assemblyman for State Assembly District 9 which encompasses all of Elk Grove, has been sponsoring some pretty worrying bills lately. With Donald Trump targeting every minority community on the book and threatening California’s sanctuary cities, now seems like an especially bad time to put forward bills to allow police to further erode our rights, but that’s exactly what Jim Cooper is doing.

The first of these bills Cooper is sponsoring is AB-2, a revision to the state hate crime statute that would add peace officers to the list of groups protected by the statute. These so-called Blue Lives Matter bills, which started gaining traction as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, is built on the false premise that there has been a rash of police killings in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In fact, the opposite is true, cop killings have been on the decline

What’s really troubling about AB-2 is the mockery it makes of the hate crime statute. The hate crime statute is there to protect marginalized communities who are especially vulnerable and often ignored by law enforcement. By adding police to the hate crime statute it could actually have a chilling effect on the very groups the statute is meant to protect by criminalizing criticism of police as a hate crime and further inflating charges protesters face in confrontations with police. Peace officers have no business being on this list, often they are the ones marginalized communities have the most to fear from.

The second of these bills is AB-16, a bill that adds a number of misdemeanors to the list of charges for which police can compel you to give up your DNA and fingerprints. Currently, the police can only compel you to give up your DNA and fingerprints if you are being charged with a felony. 

It’s important to note that it is being charged with, not being convicted of, one of these crimes that allows police to compel you to give up your DNA and fingerprints. Even if you’re acquitted, your prints and DNA remain in the database. This is a further erosion of privacy rights which under the era of Trump are more valuable than ever.

The final of these bills Assemblyman Cooper is sponsoring is AB-165, which seeks to exclude “local education agencies” from the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. What this would mean is that schools, on their own or in conjunction with law enforcement, would be able to compel students to make available their electronic communication without a warrant or wiretap order. 

They can force students to turn over their phones and passwords to search them, force students to allow them access to their social media, and even make the students friend or follow the school on social media so they can keep tabs on their social media feeds; all without a court order and regardless of the students wishes. The schools would be able keep tabs on students’ associations, their political views, and even if they’re queer. This opens the door to further discrimination of students based on their sexuality, gender orientation, and political leanings.

All of these bills expand police power and have a chilling effect on the rights and speech of the most vulnerable among us. Already the ACLU has expressed concern about these bills and are carefully following their progress in the state legislature. Jim Cooper may have been a cop for 30 years, but these bills are wrong for the people of California.

Ed. note - For clarification, Cooper is a coauthor on AB2, and introduced AB165 and AB 16.





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