Assembly Passes Stricter Police Use-of-Force Bill

For the second year in a row, a sweeping police reform measure that law-enforcement organizations said was motivated by antipathy toward peace officers has been embraced by the state Legislature.

Last year lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1421 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. It required police agencies to release information on officer discipline records – treating these records the same as many others that are routinely released to the public under government openness laws. California’s police disclosure rules previously had been among the strictest in the nation.

This year, Assembly Bill 392, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, appears headed for passage after being approved 67-0 by the Assembly on Wednesday. It says officers may only use lethal force if it is “necessary” for public safety. Existing law says officers can use such force if they believe it is “reasonable” to ensure public safety. While provisions in Assembly Bill 392 were dropped to persuade law enforcement organizations to end their opposition and take a neutral stand – as they did last week – the ACLU says the bill will create among the strictest use-of-force standards of any state.

These organizations were lobbied by Gov. Gavin Newsom to accept Assembly Bill 392. After their decision to go neutral was announced, Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins issued a joint statement endorsing Weber’s bill, seemingly guaranteeing its eventual approval.

The passage of the two reform measures would have been impossible to imagine earlier this century. Law enforcement unions had tight relationships with most elected Democrats, the same as with unions for teachers, nurses, service workers and government bureaucrats, providing them with heavy campaign contributions.

Gov. Gray Davis’ 2001 decision to give prison guards a five-year, 37 percent raise after its union helped him get elected in 1998 drew sharp blow-back from good-government advocates and newspaper editorial boards, especially after the 2003 revelationthat Davis had badly underestimated the long-term cost of the labor deal. It was among the issues that helped lead to his unprecedented recall later that year.

2004 CHP scandal downplayed by state leaders

But the clout of law enforcement was again on display a year later. In 2004, the Sacramento Bee broke the story of a pervasive workers’ compensation scam in the upper reaches of the California Highway Patrol. The Bee found that 55 of the 65 senior CHP officers who had retired since 2000 had filed workers’ comp claims – with some citing injuries never reported while they were on the job. Their disability claims were routinely approved, sharply increasing their retirement benefits.

CHP Commissioner Dwight “Spike” Helmick agreed to retire after the “Chiefs Disease” scandal broke, then added to it by also claiming he was disabled because of vehicle accidents in the 1970s and 1980s. But neither the Legislature or Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – who courted and won law enforcement support – agreed with calls to bring in an outside reformer to run the agency. Instead, Schwarzenegger chose Mike Brown, one of Helmick’s top aides.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer declined to prosecute the case, citing conflicts of interest because of his office’s close ties to the CHP. The case was assigned to Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully. But in 2007, she closed the investigation without bringing any charges. Scully said CHP officials and former officials were “unable or unwilling” to testify about the pension-spiking scheme. The story faded from the headlines.

But ties between lawmakers and police unions have weakened since then as the national outcry has grown over alleged police mistreatment of minorities, especially a series of fatal shootings of young African-American men in questionable circumstances. The California Democratic Party has also had an influx of newly elected progressive lawmakers who dislike the aggressive, confrontational policing style adopted by many departments after it was credited with reducing crime in New York City in the 1990s under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Recent analyses of how Assembly Bill 392 overcame the obstacles that doomed a similar bill last year have focused on the March 2018 fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black father of two, in Sacramento.

The announcement two months ago that no officer would face charges for Clark’s death triggered an outcry so intense it became a national and international story that appeared to give Weber’s bill new momentum.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Comments

  1. Damocles says

    It has been many many years since I agreed with something the Demoncraps have done but in this one instance I whole-heartedly agree .
    Every year for the last few years there is news of police murdering unarmed America citizens because the don’t capitulate fast enough to the orders being barked by overzealous police officers.
    Although many racists will try to convince America that this is a Racially Prejudiced act against minorities it is really an act of terrorism against all Americans and the act is NOT targeting any one minority but the push for a police state through the abuse of power that we the people entrust to the Police to keep us safe.
    Where I live , a man with a stick, that’s right a stick, was shot and killed by one of 4 brave Police officers claiming that they told him to drop the stick before murdering him. HE WAS NOT A MINORITY . I would like to see the records of those men. I ask myself how it is possible that 4 trained Officers of the Law could not subdue one man with a stick without using deadly force. It of course was judged a ” good shooting ” with NO repercussions . I consider it an open act or cowardice in the line of duty.
    If ANY American citizen committed the same act they WOULD GO TO PRISON for escalating the incident .
    From the sword of—–

    • showandtell says

      Sorry but this is NOT good news…. for anyone
      This is an item on BLM’s agenda. They lied and changed the narrative of the Stephon Clark incident and then — among other activities — burst in yelling and climbing on council desks which would guarantee TV air time and viral videos and this legislation was the goal.

      It’s a myth that most police officers are trigger-happy. It’s a lie. Why would they be? Maybe you should go on a ride-along (if they still have them) and see what goes on; how much they put their lives at risk.

      When their hands are tied what do you think officers are going to do (besides unnecessarily put themselves in danger or not survive an encounter with someone who likely shouldn’t even be on the street in the first place) when they have to go through a hundred-item checklist with every move they make? They’re going to back down to the point that you’ll be wishing they hadn’t because YOU are not going to be protected.

      Without the Thin Blue Line of the police we have anarchy.

  2. SHANE CONWAY says

    California laws are very explicit about using deadly force. Citizens are allowed to kill in self defense. But now, through virtue of their employment, police officers are now restricted more than non-peace officers when it comes to self-defense. Officers do not shoot unless there is a threat to someone’s life or safety. There have been many grumblings about how we were appreciated by the public. Now you will see the affects of tying law enforcement’s hands when they try to protect you from crime. My advice: go out and buy yourselves a couple of good, reliable firearms and as much ammunition as you can afford because you will need it. After the next wave of retirements, there won’t be many police officers left to protect those few citizens remaining in California.

    • The Captive says

      Agree ! agree! agree! The unruly and down right defiant people at fault are literally asking to be shot or beaten down so that they will comply with the officers command. By deliberately running away they are asking for it!
      Yes when the retirements happen then the fault will be on the shoulders of the STATE damn-Dems . who passed this law. There are laws out there and you the public need to be aware of that fact! Just remember too that the Dems in CORRUPT CA want open borders, disease and criminality as well as terrorists in this state as well. They are still coming in and IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE! Yes , we can blame the Lib-LEFT AND THE DEMS with all their corrupt ideas in place. Oh yes, We do know that fires are set—and there are laws about that too,

    • Damocles says

      Another threat to the American Public by a criminal Police entity . We all wwach the news and read the local papers . Anytime a group of law enforcement officers kills another American citizen when they do not have a gun it is a crime against humanity. You say, Let us murder with impunity , Or else ! Right The same threat made by just about any thug demanding his way or else.
      To say that the police can’t safely do there jobs here because of laws passed to protect the people from the police is absolutely ridicules and you know it. This is pure Propaganda.
      About those firearms and ammunition , bring it on and maybe the right people will get killed in the commission of their crimes and the jails won’t be near as full.
      from the sword of—

  3. The California left is doing to law enforcement what they have done
    to their education system.

  4. The weakness of our state government on display once again.
    Newsom’s opposition to the death penalty because he hasn’t the manhood to abide by the decision of the people. A leader he is not!
    Now we have the legislature bending for the criminal once again because they think they are being sympathetic and caring, when in fact they are just cowardly and want the police to take the brunt of their spineless decisions.
    California is sinking and will soon be that waste land of debt, entitlement, unemployment, welfare, and homeless.
    But, alas, the democrats will be harvesting votes from the homeless, illegals, the lazy, and incompetent so they can continue digging California’s grave.

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