by Rachel Marshall
San Francisco – In a statement released Aug. 22, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin emphasizes the importance of AB 767, a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Grayson, which would expand California’s Victim Compensation Board benefits to include victims of police violence. The bill intends to reduce obstacles for survivors of police violence and would provide compensation to victims and their families for expenses like medical bills and funeral costs that cannot be covered by medical plans, workers’ compensation or other forms of insurance.
The proposed law would ensure that victims of police violence – disproportionately people of color – would be eligible to receive victims’ compensation claims just like any other crime victims, without needing a law enforcement officer’s corroboration to qualify. In cases where law enforcement officers are themselves the perpetrators of illegal violence, those officers are unlikely to admit to their excessive force in a police report. This leads to victims and families of those killed or hurt by police being prevented from receiving victims’ compensation.
Following resistance to the bill by law enforcement unions, a recent Senate Appropriations Committee report on the bill’s cost grossly overestimated its fiscal impact, claiming the bill would increase victims’ compensation claim costs by over 200 percent. Other estimates, such as one conducted by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, suggest the bill would actually increase the costs for victims’ compensation claims by only 5 percent.
The report also expressed concern that the new law would lead to too many new claims by victims of police violence – a fact that only speaks to the urgent need to repair harms caused to the many people impacted by police violence.
“These victims are disproportionately people of color and have been harmed by the government; they deserve the government’s support to recover from the harm,” said District Attorney Boudin.”
District Attorney Boudin, whose office spearheaded the support for this bill, as well as implemented its own internal policy to provide similar coverage to victims of police violence, gave the following statement:
“My office recently implemented an internal policy to ensure that some of our most vulnerable victims – victims of law enforcement officers, the people entrusted to keep us safe – are compensated for medical fees, funeral expenses and burial costs that result from police abuse. This need is so urgent that four current and former elected prosecutors have rallied together, calling on the California Victim Compensation Board to provide that same coverage to victims of police violence statewide.
“These victims are disproportionately people of color and have been harmed by the government; they deserve the government’s support to recover from the harm,” said District Attorney Boudin. “It is therefore tremendously disappointing to see the police unions lining up in opposition to this legislation. Relying on misinformation from the law enforcement unions – who protect those same officers who use excessive force – is connected to the very problem this legislation seeks to address. We can and we must compensate those who are hurt by police.”
Rachel Marshall is director of communications and policy advisor and an assistant district attorney in the office of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. She can be reached at Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org. The DA’s Office can also be reached by mail to San Francisco District Attorney, 350 Rhode Island St., North Building, Suite 400N, San Francisco, CA 94103, or by calling 628-652-4000.