Windshield or Bug - Elk Grove's Cooper Experiences Both This Week on Proposed Law Enforcement Legislation

Assemblymember Jim Cooper during the 2016 introduction of
Assembly Bill 16. |
January 11, 2018 |  

As the saying goes, sometimes you are the bug, and sometimes you are the windshield. For California Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) this was a week where he experienced both. 

Cooper, a retired captain with the Sacramento Sheriff's Department, has been a proponent of advocating law enforcement legislation following his 2014 election to the 9th district seat in the California Assembly. This week Cooper saw one of his key bills advance out of committee while another one was killed.

On Tuesday Assembly Bill 16, which would expand DNA collection of individuals convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes that were previously classified as a felony was unanimously passed out Public Safety Committee and referred to the Appropriations Committee. With the 2014 passage of Proposition 47, several crimes were reclassified as misdemeanors and thus exempt from DNA collection.

“I applaud the Assembly Public Safety Committee for recognizing that DNA evidence is an essential tool for law enforcement to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent,” Cooper said. “It is indisputable that lesser public offenses of fraud, property crime and drug possession are linked to the more serious violent crimes of rape and murder.”

Although the bill was passed out of committee, it faces an uncertain legislative future. Cooper previously introduced the bill in December 2016. That bill, which faced opposition from criminal defense attorneys and civil rights groups, stalled in committee.

While Cooper's DNA bill will move on, another bill was killed the same day also in the Public Safety Committee. That bill, Assembly Bill 875, sought to address serial theft rings.

If enacted, it would have created a wobbler, a crime that can either be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor, for persons who had a prior conviction for any serious or violent felony, and to any person who has three or more prior convictions for crimes such as petty theft, shoplifting, grand theft, or burglary.

“I am very disappointed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee for not recognizing that organized serial theft rings are targeting our mom and pop businesses,” Cooper said. “Emboldened thieves will continue to extort the law with no consequences, resulting in increased costs for day-to-day essentials for working-class families.”

AB 875 was co-sponsored by the California Grocers Association, California Police Chiefs Association and Crime Victims United California.


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