Judge May Toss Consent Decree In California Agency

VALLEJO, CA. – A Solano County Superior Court judge indicated last week that he will not enforce some elements of a stipulated judgment between the Vallejo Police Department and the California Department of Justice, and may not approve the document at all.

The Vallejo Sun reported that Judge Stephen Gizzi wrote in an order to show cause filed Friday that he found no legal support for the Justice Department’s plan to appoint an evaluator to oversee the Vallejo police reform work. He objected to acting as a mediator in disputes between the Justice Department and the city, saying it would give him undue power over policing in Vallejo.

“This court was never asked if it was willing or able to take on this role that could potentially last up to 10 years,” Gizzi wrote. “Yet, without authority to do so, the commitment was made on behalf of the court.”

Gizzi also wrote that he found other portions of the 67-page stipulated judgment filed by the Justice Department last month to be vague, contradictory, or unsupported by law, and indicated that he would not enforce large portions of it, including proposed reforms of stops and searches. While the agreement set milestones for compliance, Gizzi found there were “no meaningful timelines established” and what full compliance means was not defined.

Dr. Travis Yates, a leadership trainer and author, who has spoken out about the corruption and collusion within the entities that push and mandate consent decrees, praised the judge for his willingness to stand up to powerful forces that are systematically targeting law enforcement agencies and making the communities much more dangerous.

“I’m hopeful that the thirty year disaster that has been federal or state control on local law enforcement, will finally be recognized by judges who owe their communities an unbiased appraisal of consent decrees and there will be a day that this decision by Judge Gizzi will become the norm across the country,” Yates told us.

Yates said that like federal consent decrees, not only was established Supreme Court Case Law ignored in the Vallejo agreement but that the work of the agency was simply ignored by the Attorney General’s Office.

“We see a lot of agencies doing a lot of great work in making their department better but those behind imposing consent decrees could really care less about that. What they care about is power and control and you can clearly see that in this consent decree,” Yates told us.

Despite the Vallejo Police Department outfitting officers with body cameras, expanding its Quality Assurance Unit and placing oversight protocols in place such as random audits and inspections, those efforts did little to stop the power trip that is a consent decree.

The agency had also implemented safety management software, hired consultants to review policies and practices, developed a formal sergeant and lieutenant field training officer (FTO) program, launched training in procedural justice, employee wellness, and data collection around the Racial and Identity Profiling Act.