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Edward Headington: Message to Sacramento on public safety: ‘Don’t tread on us’

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Posted: September 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

Many of us fly Old Glory from our houses with pride, but it is perhaps the earlier Gadsden flag that continues to serve as a reminder to be vigilant in our defense.

You know the one. It’s the flag with the yellow background and a coiled snake adorned with the words “Don’t Tread On Me.”

It also serves to remind me that public safety — like national security at the federal level — is a core function of government and must be both funded and protected.

Safe communities do not happen by accident and we need to elect leaders who are not just committed to protecting public safety but also pursue policies to keep us safe.

Before deciding to run for this Assembly seat, I was planning to become an LAPD reserve police officer. I had gone through a community police academy, volunteered at Mission Area Station in the Valley and done a ride-along in the city of Burbank.

It gave me a new appreciation for those who safeguard our lives and property — and I vowed upon getting into this race that I would put my job on the line to look out and advocate for those who put their lives on the line each and every day they show up to work.

As it happens, there are more law enforcement families (LAPD, Sheriffs, CHP, etc.) in Assembly District 38 than any other in the state. That is why I am honored to be supported by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers and strong public safety advocates like Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch Englander and former Los Angeles Mayor and California Education Secretary Richard Riordan.

I still remember being a young aide to Mayor Riordan some 15-plus years ago during the North Hollywood shootout when 11 of our finest were injured. A year later, I was working with then-Assemblyman Scott Wildman, who authored legislation that was signed into law banning body armor for felons.

Like voters, the law enforcement community needs a champion for its issues and an ally on public safety legislation.

This is why I challenged my opponents in the primary to visit every police or sheriff’s station and explain how they will cut billions of dollars in the budget without impacting basic services.

I sat down with Capt. Paul Becker recently and also did a ride-along with Lt. Dan Peacock to learn first-hand how the Santa Clarita Valley is kept safe.

It is critical that your next Assemblymember understands these issues because with the passage and implementation of AB 109, the Criminal Justice Realignment, our quality of life is at stake.

Below are five priorities I am stressing on the campaign trail and will pursue in Sacramento:

1. Amend AB 109 to make multiple ID thefts and commercial burglaries state prison crimes. Right now criminals can commit as many as they want without fear of going to state prison. That needs to change. I would also make sure that California Penal Code Section 69 — assault on peace officers — crimes be treated like Penal Code 245(c) crimes — the perpetrators go to state prison, not county jail.

2. Secure resources for local law enforcement so they can handle the burden of AB 109 criminals.

3. Change the way California determines “high risk” probation and parole from the last conviction to the criminal’s entire record. The current system lets serious or violent offenders into the public with little or no supervision.

4. Ensure resources for veterans court and juvenile programs. We owe a special debt to our veterans and part of that is getting them back on track after having served our country. I would couple this with support for juvenile programs so we get to at-risk youth before they become career criminals.

5. Urge the governor to sign AB 1968 supporting peace officers. We have early released many criminals and need to make sure probation officers are not unarmed while checking in on them.

Like job creation and public education, public safety will be a priority in my budget vote. It is a core function of government at all levels and needs to be both protected and fully funded, especially when criminals are early released into our safe communities.

In addition to choosing legislators that can get California “Heading in the Right Direction,” it is also important they bring a “Don’t tread On us” mentality.

Edward Headington is a small-business owner and the Democratic candidate for California Assembly District 38. He can be reached at Edward@Edward2012.com.

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