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Understanding the Nuances of this Session’s Use-of-Force Legislation

SB 230 and AB 392 Take a Comprehensive Approach in Addressing Peace Officers Use-of-Force

September 9, 2019
A two-year long debate over police use-of-force in the California Legislature has reached a conclusion.
 
Introduced as competing measures, AB 392 (Weber) and SB 230 (Caballero), initially took differing approaches toward addressing police use-of-force. Shortly after the introduction of both bills, the League issued formal support for SB 230 and formal opposition for AB 392, the far more controversial of the two bills. In May, supporters and opponents reached an agreement on the provisions of AB 392 through a series of amendments, thereby allowing the overwhelming majority of law enforcement entities and the League to collectively remove their opposition of the bill.
 
SB 230 was made contingent upon the enactment of AB 392, meaning that the provisions of SB 230 can only take effect if AB 392 is also signed into law. AB 392 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom and chaptered on Aug. 19. Meanwhile, SB 230 has passed through its respective policy and fiscal committees with zero ‘No’ votes, and is currently awaiting an Assembly floor vote.
 
Below, is a breakdown of each bill:
 
SB 230 (Caballero) Law Enforcement: Use of Deadly Force: Training: Policies

SB 230 is co-sponsored by the California Police Chiefs Association and is supported by virtually all law enforcement agencies throughout the state. Specifically, the bill:
  • Establishes guidelines for use-of-force training by every California law enforcement agency to standardize this type of training throughout the state
  • Requires every law enforcement agency, by Jan. 1, 2021, to maintain an internal policy that includes specified guidelines on use of force
  • Requires each law enforcement agency to make its use-of-force policy accessible to the public. 
AB 392 (Weber) Peace Officers: Deadly Force

AB 392 sought to revise the legal standard on law enforcement’s use of deadly force by redefining the circumstances under which homicide by a peace officer is deemed justifiable.    Early iterations of AB 392 changed “necessarily committed” or reasonableness, to an unprecedented standard whereby officers may engage in such force only if “necessary,” and when there is “no reasonable alternative.” After significant amendments, virtually all opposing law enforcement removed their opposition, taking a neutral position on the measure. These amendments entailed:
  • Removing the definition of the term “necessary” as listed in the bill, while retaining the actual term in the findings and declarations section.
  • Removing the language that explicitly required officers to exhaust nonlethal alternatives before resorting to deadly force.
  • Removing a component that would have allowed officers to be held criminally liable for negligence-related deaths.


 
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