Police Reform Debate Reshapes Los Angeles DA Race

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The Los Angeles district attorney’s race is being reshaped largely around which candidate is best suited to hold law enforcement accountable, the Los Angeles Times reports. Even before the unrest over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, the contest for this November’s vote to head the nation’s largest prosecutor office had been framed as one pitting a progressive prosecutor, challenger George Gascón, against the more traditional incumbent, Jackie Lacey. But the stakes in that debate have grown more intense in recent weeks.

The national debate has provided a lift to Gascón’s upset bid, though Lacey retains a number of endorsements from some of California’s most powerful politicians. But her close ties to law enforcement could turn into an “albatross,” said Jody Armour, a law professor at USC. “Those kinds of endorsements are under scrutiny now, in a way they never have been before,” he said. “It used to be something prideful, to have police union endorsements. Now it may be stigmatized.” Gascón, a veteran of LAPD and the former district attorney in San Francisco, recently joined a number of prosecutors in calling on the State Bar of California to preclude elected officials from accepting financial support from law enforcement unions, calling it a conflict of interest. Lacey rejected the idea.

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