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Local civil rights activists demand police reform after Chauvin guilty verdict

George Floyd Officer Trial
Posted at 5:02 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 20:30:31-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Since former Minnesota Police officer Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict, local civil rights activists are demanding government leaders to take on police reform.

Tuesday, a jury convicted Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges in the death of George Floyd. His killing sparked national controversy after a video of Chauvin thrusting his knee onto Floyd's neck during an arrest went viral last year. Community advocate Cornelius Bowser said he was expecting the guilty verdict.

"I really think that he [Chauvin] deserved it, and he should get the maximum penalty for it," Bowser said.

San Diego Police Officers Association president Jack Schaeffer said justice was served.

"The jury had a chance to see everything, and they came back clearly with what they thought the decision was," Schaeffer said. "That's our justice system. I trust our justice system, and it looks as though justice was served in this case."

But Bowser said that verdict is only the first step into police reform, not just in Minnesota but around the country.

Shane Harris of the People's Association of Justice Advocates held a joint press conference with community advocates demanding local leaders to pass a resolution of the congressional George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.

"Let's move our region forward toward reimagining policing in San Diego and toward building a bridge between law enforcement and the community," Harris said.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 would create an independent process to investigate police misconduct or excessive force. It would establish a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions. It would grant funds to local agencies for anti-discrimination training programs. It would also prohibit no-knock warrants, chokeholds, carotid holds, among other things.

"That bill will really bring some radical changes and at the very least reimagine policing to what it should look like and be a model and example," Bowser said.

In his more than 30 year career, Schaeffer has seen many police reforms. Several procedural changes have already been implemented locally since Floyd's death. In June, every law enforcement agency in the county banned the use of the controversial carotid restraint. In November, San Diegans voted to have an independent body with subpoena powers to review police conduct. Schaeffer anticipates more changes in the future.

"Our job is constantly evolving. We're always trying to look for better ways to try to do things. Sometimes it takes tragic events to highlight things to make sure that we are taking care of training officers the way they need to be trained and holding people accountable," Schaeffer said.

Bowser believes change needs to come from within.

"We know that it's a culture. It's a cultural belief. It's a practice and implicit bias that police have on our community that creates that problem," Bowser said.

In response, San Diego County Board of Supervisors President Nathan Fletcher sent ABC 10News this statement:

"The renewed interest at the federal level in the 'George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021' is a positive step in the right direction. Our legislative team has been monitoring H.R.1280 as a result of the updated values-driven legislative agenda we launched earlier this year. We have planned for our Board of Supervisors to take a formal vote on it on May 4th."
Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Board of Supervisors President