After Racist Photo Surfaces, Black Leaders Demand Investigations, Resignations

Photo provided by the Sacramento NAACP: 2022 Sheriff picture of Black young man 

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) Chair Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) is calling on Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones to resign for “dereliction of duty” and for “breeding a culture of racism, hatred, and ignorance.”

Bradford was commenting on an investigation of Kate Adams, a former Sacramento County sheriff’s captain, who was placed on administrative leave for misconduct, which included the distribution of racially charged text messages, memes and photographs.

Adams has since retired from the position.

“Former Sacramento County Sheriff’s Captain Kate Adams, acting as the Chief of Police of the Rancho Cordova Police Department under the supervision of Sheriff Jones. is the poster child for law enforcement bias,” Bradford said.

Bradford, who is also the chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, added, “for the first time in California, both the Senate and the Assembly Public Safety Committee chairpersons are African Americans. I am concerned, outraged, but not surprised by this behavior.”

“The pervasive, ongoing racism that is rooted in law enforcement and in America is an issue that all people of color should be concerned and outraged by,” he continued. “This ongoing, blatant racist behavior under Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones stops now.”

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), who is also a member of the CLBC, is the chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

The Greater Sacramento Branch of the NAACP (GSNAACP) asked Bradford to expand the investigation now that Adams has resigned from the Sheriff’s office. RCPD is under contract with the county office and uses deputies to patrol the community.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen that racist conduct is ignored until it reaches a level that the public becomes aware of it. Similar cases of racist texts between law enforcement officers in Los Angeles, Torrance and San Francisco should have taught us that transparency on this issue is a must,” wrote Betty Williams, Branch President of GSNAACP.

Adams would have been able to seek employment as a law enforcement officer elsewhere in California without a hitch if it were not for Senate Bill (SB) 2. Bradford authored the bill that became California law on Jan. 1, 2022.

SB 2 authorizes the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to decertify officers if investigations find they have engaged in serious misconduct.

The inquiry into Adam’s actions was called off after she retired but Bradford said she should still be held accountable.

“The investigation of Captain Adams must be completed and if the allegations are found to be confirmed, she should lose her POST certification so that she is unable to be hired by any other law enforcement agency to continue racist and hateful misconduct in another community,” Bradford stated. “In addition, the hundreds — or perhaps thousands — of cases she’s handled over the years, under a climate of bias, must all be reviewed in an independent investigation.”

In a statement, GSNAACP said SB 2 “could not have been achieved without the support of many legislators, community organizations, families, and entertainers” who persistently “advocated non-stop for accountability in our policing system.”

“We use this moment to recognize that social media messaging is used as a pathway to perpetuate racism while also exposing those who use racism in their positions of power. Rancho Cordova’s Chief Adams had a responsibility to stand against racism and bias,” the statement continued. “Instead, what has been communicated to the GSNAACP is a person who finds the historic and traumatizing use of (high-powered water) hoses against Black people a mockery.”

With a Black population of over 6,800 out of a total of 74,000 residents, Rancho Cordova is 15 miles east of downtown Sacramento. The Adams case is not the first time the CLBC has weighed in on misconduct involving officers of the Rancho Cordova Police Department.

In April 2020, a Rancho Cordova officer was caught on video punching a defenseless 14-year-old boy. The deputy was in the area due to complaints from citizens about hand-to-hand sales of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs to minors.

“The deputy saw what he believed to be a hand-to-hand exchange between an adult and juvenile,” according to an April 2020 statement from the Rancho Cordova Police Department.

“After an administrative investigation (related to the incident), the deputy was terminated from employment,” the sheriff’s office said in a September 2020 written statement.

Bradford said peace officers in California are accountable to the people they serve.

“Our communities must have faith that all law enforcement officers in California are held to the highest standards,” Bradford stated.

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