The politics of police in California

Democrats have complete control of policies that come out of the state Capitol. They hold roughly three-quarters of the legislative seats and every statewide office. Even as some Democrats have pushed to change the criminal justice system, law enforcement unions have held sway in the Capitol for many years. 

Some of it is about appealing to voters — public perception of law enforcement is largely positive and politicians seek police endorsements at election time. Some of it is about relationships: at least four legislators are former cops; another is a police chaplain; others have siblings and children in law enforcement. And many lawmakers are former mayors, city council members or prosecutors who may have worked closely with law enforcement in their hometowns before being elected to the Legislature.

Law enforcement groups are also major campaign donors, which contributes to their influence in the Capitol.