Police Reform Practice Group
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, public agencies across the nation are re-examining policing amidst public demands for police reform, restructuring, and racial justice. In response to this movement, RPLG has formed a multi-disciplinary team to serve as a resource for public agencies navigating this complicated and urgent issue.
RPLG attorneys have extensive experience representing public agencies in the area of public protection and labor & employment. The City of Fresno recently retained partner Jon Holtzman to serve as General Counsel for its Commission on Police Reform. Holtzman also assisted the City of Berkeley in crafting a ballot measure for November 2020, which would create a new Police Accountability Board. Holtzman is also a veteran of innumerable negotiations with police unions over wages, hours and departmental policies.
Louise Renne, the firm’s Chair, served as President of the San Francisco Police Commission, after completing 16 years as San Francisco’s City Attorney. She is actively involved in numerous matters on behalf of community-based organizations that represent the City’s African-American residents, including affirmative litigation against private corporations that discriminate in the selection of Board members.
Partner Ruth Bond was a San Francisco Deputy City Attorney for more than a decade on the labor employment team where she represented the San Francisco Fire, Police and other departments in employment litigation, arbitrations, grievances and labor negotiations – acquiring crucial expertise in all aspects of employment relations in the public safety sector.
Julian Gross, who joined the firm as a partner at the firm on August 17, 2020, has extensive experience on police reform issues, having advised police reform advocates on labor law and municipal law issues through PolicyLink, a national non-profit advocacy organization devoted to racial and economic equity.
During her time in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Partner Linda Ross served as general counsel to the San Francisco Police Department, chief counsel to Mayor Gavin Newsom, and head of the Labor & Employment team.
Partner Art Hartinger also has extensive labor negotiation experience, as well as experience in police disciplinary matters. He has also represented public agencies in negotiations with prosecutors and public defenders.
RPLG is poised to provide support to public agencies in the area of police reform by advising on policy, procedures, legal limits on police powers, legislation and related issues including:
- The Meyers-Milias-Brown Act and the scope of bargaining regarding police practices
- Policy changes including in Use of Force, Chokeholds, officer responsibility for fellow officers’ misconduct and other areas
- Defunding Police Departments/Civilianization: Revising peace officer duties and increasing the role of employees in the mental health and social work fields
- Revisions to language in peace officer collective bargaining agreements and model contract language
- Drafting and reviewing legislation and amendments to existing law, including ordinances, charters, and ballot measures
- Qualified Immunity
- Changes to the disciplinary process for police officers, including evaluation of requirements of the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights
- Treatment of personnel files and disciplinary documents
- Changes to judicial appeal in excessive use of force discipline cases
Our role in police reform efforts has varied. In some cases, we have been asked to facilitate blue-ribbon committees, in others, to propose oversight bodies, revise policies, and to negotiate and defend changes in policies. RPLG is a source of information on best practices and the state of the field for California jurisdictions: we have assembled a database on what jurisdictions across California are doing on police reform, and track innovations and best practices from around the country.
In addition, we can supply non-attorney policy expertise through our consulting group, RPLG.solutions, and lobby for changes in state legislation through our policy arm, Renne Public Policy Group. We regularly work with well-respected former chiefs of police and other outside experts on police reform issues, as well as on IA investigations.