As a long-time police chief, I learned firsthand how important it is for us to be as hard on the causes of crime as we are on holding offenders accountable – we must be smart on crime as well as hard on it. This means we have to focus on prevention and intervention as well as suppression. That requires a holistic approach focusing on meaningful results and ignoring traditional political and bureaucratic barriers to making our communities safer and government work better.
It has become plain that our state and local governments do not work as well as they should. We see this every day in the partisan bickering over the state budget, the inability of cities and counties to fund basic services or collaborate, and the deterioration of our education and public safety systems.
It’s time to hold government accountable for the kind of outcomes California deserves, and California Forward’s Government Performance and Accountability Act (GPAA) will do just that.
I know firsthand how well government can work – and also how poorly it can perform. I have witnessed what happens when we lose sight of the need for a responsive and accountable government that supports a “smart on crime” approach to public safety. Our current prison crisis should serve as a warning to all of us what happens when government trades meaningful outcomes for politically expedient policies.
Clearly, California has the potential for reclaiming its spot as the greatest state in the nation –but fundamental to California’s return to greatness is a government that is responsive, accountable and focused on meaningful outcomes.
The GPAA will help us take a giant step forward by compelling government to leverage our increasingly scarce and expensive taxpayer-funded resources, investing them in programs that perform and ensuring Californians know what their elected officials are doing with the money taxpayers have invested.
The GPAA is also a crucial first step in knocking down the barriers to smart, effective government, urging collaboration across jurisdictional and bureaucratic boundaries, and paving the way for government agencies at the local level to forge effective partnerships and create better outcomes for all Californians.
The GPAA injects a degree of responsiveness and accountability into California’s governmental systems that is long overdue. As a former police chief, I can tell you from personal experience how desperately needed this is.
It is time to break down the barriers that keep critical taxpayer-funded entities from working together for a better, safer California. If, like me, you think it’s time for California government to work better, support meaningful reform of our government.
Jim Bueermann is chief of the Redlands Police Department (ret.) and senior fellow at George Mason University