Pubdate: Sat, 10 Mar 2001
Source: Auburn Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Auburn Journal
Contact:  1030 High St., Auburn, CA 95603
Author: Bruce Schuknecht, Journal Staff Writer
Note:  Sheriff Ed Bonner, named in seven lawsuits against the county for 
illegal SWAT raids against medical marijuana patients, appears to be 
backing away from his former hard line position


Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner has been named to a statewide panel that 
will study how law enforcement agencies throughout California deploy SWAT 
teams in high-risk situations.

Commissioned by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the law 
enforcement panel includes several police department heads from Northern 
California. Its members will pick discussion topics for perhaps four 
meetings this year, California Department of Justice spokesman Nathan 
Barankin said Friday.

Police Chief Art Venegas of Sacramento and Richard Word of Oakland were 
also invited to join the dozen-member commission, the department announced. 
Aside from Bonner, others include prosecutors, judges and state and local 
government representatives.

"He's someone whose views are well respected by folks in Placer County, and 
colleagues around the state," the department said of Bonner.

Though the depth and breadth of the commission's work has not taken shape 
yet, members are expected to review several SWAT team actions or, in police 
parlance, special weapons and tactics. These squads typically train heavily 
for deadly encounters using assault weapons and military-style tactics.

Last September's fatal shooting of 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda by a 
Modesto police SWAT team member triggered DOJ's desire for an overview of 
SWAT team deployment, according to the department's statement. An 
independent review of the incident by its lawyers revealed Modesto SWAT 
Officer David Hawn's shotgunning of the boy was accidental, as the team 
served search warrants on a major drug-making ring, the department 
statement said.

"The death of Alberto Sepulveda is a horrible tragedy that can never be 
erased," Lockyer was quoted as saying. "S(W)hile we cannot find any 
criminal wrongdoing in this shooting, I believe we must do everything 
possible, starting today, to avoid future tragedies."

Commission members are expected to review findings from incidents involving 
other SWAT teams, the DOJ said, but members would not seek overturning any 
shooting reviews. Members would also be tasked to review policies and 
procedures of agencies deploying SWAT teams.

Lockyer also is expected to ask commissioners to recommend guidelines for 
individual agencies to improve safety for SWAT teams and for the public.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth