That new no-body-armor-for-felons legislation written by District Attorney Steve Cooley has been offered up to State Sen. Alex Padilla, who could sponsor it if he likes it, Cooley told the Weekly.
Calls to Padilla's office went unanswered Thursday, but Cooley says Padilla's staff has been reviewing the language, which would institute an urgent law to prohibit ex-felons convicted of violent crimes from wearing body armor. "We've extended an invitation to Senator Alex Padilla," Cooley said. "He has received our proposal and he could decide to today or early next week. He wants to make to sure it would be a good product. It is urgent legislation so it would move quickly."
Cooley was inspired by a state court of appeals decision earlier this month that overturned just such a law. In the case of a convicted murderer who was out on parole when he was stopped by the Los Angeles Police Department in 2007, the court said the law was too constitutionally vague for Ethan Saleem to have known wearing his bullet-proof vest would land him back in jail.
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The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file LAPD cops, was up in arms, and it has urged Attorney General Jerry Brown to challenge the decision. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon followed suit by writing letters to Brown. The A.G. stated he will petition the state Supreme Court to review the case.
But Cooley, who is likely to run for Brown's job, says instituting a new law with clearer language would be a faster way of ensuring that violent ex-cons don't wear body armor. Police say unprovoked ambushes by well-equipped criminals have been on the rise, and they note that the 1997 North Hollywood shootout between police and robbers wearing vests was one of the inspirations for the original law.
"This is a much more effective way to address the issue," Cooley says, "-- putting a law back on the books banning body armor for violent felons. Its a lot more quicker than going to the Supreme Court."
Cooley's law would define body armor as ""a bulletproof vest, meaning any bulletproof material intended to provide ballistic and trauma protection for the wearer."