Captain Chuck Becerra of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station has expressed his interest in acquiring more riot gear in preparation for protests that may turn violent, though he acknowledged the right to peaceful protest.
“What I’m doing is preparing this station for that day [things turn violent],” Becerra said during an interview for a story published in a recent edition of the Acorn newspaper. “If I don’t prepare this station for that day, or any contingency, whether it’s pursuit, fires, a shooting, or protesting, then I’m failing to do my job.”
The nonprofit Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Foundation, which raises private money for some of the manpower and equipment needs of the local station, reported a fundraising goal of $10,500 for the additional riot gear, “especially nonlethal crowd control measures like pepper ball guns and a 40-millimeter rubber-bullet launcher.”
Law enforcement agencies’ use of such “nonlethal” crowd control equipment entered the spotlight recently after videos of protests this summer demonstrated that they can seriously injure and disable people, especially those whom they hit in the eye.
More than 80 of the 100 respondents to an Acorn Facebook poll opposed the idea of more nonlethal riot gear in the community.
Becerra cited recent protests in the LA County Sheriff’s service area where demonstrators displayed aggressive behavior toward law enforcement, like shining strobe lights in their eyes. He pointed out that deputies from Lost Hills are sometimes deployed to protests elsewhere and have to bring riot gear from their own station.
He also told the Acorn he worries about the influence of outside aggressors who come and disrupt otherwise peaceful movements and use them as a cover to attack police and damage businesses.