AB 392, introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, would bring California law up to date and in line with best practices to avoid deadly shootings and ensure community safety
Sacramento – Police reform advocates, civil rights organizations, labor unions and families of those who have lost loved ones to police violence today called for support of AB 392: The California Act to Save Lives (Weber, D – San Diego), a bill to update California’s police use of force standards.
“This isn’t about being ‘Anti-Police.’ This is about getting justice when an injustice occurred,” said Ellie Virrueta, who is a youth organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition and whose cousin was killed by police officers in 2012. “Those who took an oath to protect and serve should be doing such. I don’t wish this type of pain on anybody. We don’t want any more families feeling this pain”
Under California’s current law, police can use deadly force regardless of whether it was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury and regardless of whether there were available alternatives. AB 392 would update police use of force standards by establishing adequate and constitutional standards to ensure officers avoid the use of deadly force at every possible opportunity.
“With the passing of the historical SB 1421 last year we have seen an outpour of prior misconduct records of police officers, most of which indicate that there is proven documentation of unnecessary use of force,” said Miguel Quezada, Regional Organizer and Advocate for Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice. “Many of the young people we work with have shared stories of heinous acts of violence that have gone unchecked. The passage of SB 392 will save lives and protect our communities from police violence.”
In addition to ensuring that police can use deadly force only when there are no alternatives, the legislation, if signed into law, would update the standard used to determine whether officers’ criminal negligence makes them liable for taking someone’s life. California police kill people at a rate 37% higher than the national average per capita. In 2017, California police killed 172 people – more than two-thirds of whom were people of color. Numbers for 2018 are currently being compiled by the state’s department of justice.
“We know these reforms work. Studies show that officers in departments that have adopted such policies killed fewer people and are less likely to be killed or assaulted in the line of duty,” said Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant’s Uncle. “The power of the police officers to use deadly force is perhaps the most significant responsibility we give to any public official and must be guided by the goal of safeguarding human life and protecting human rights. This bill is just common-sense legislation that aims to save lives and prevent tragedies. I call on California lawmakers to do their part, pass this bill, and save lives.”
The California Department of Justice, in a report conducted after the shooting death of Stephon Clark, recommended that the Sacramento Police Department update its use of force guidelines to more clearly define when force is, and is not, authorized and require that officer exhaust all reasonably available alternatives before using deadly force.
Several police agencies and law enforcement organizations outside of California have recommended or already adopted stricter use-of-force standards similar to those proposed under this bill. Seattle, for example, saw a significant reduction in the number of serious use-of-force incidents after adopting a use of force standard like that of AB 392.
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The California Act to Save Lives is supported by ACLU of California, Alliance for Boys and Men of Color/PolicyLink, Anti Police-Terror Project, Black Lives Matter – California, California Faculty Association, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), California Families United 4 Justice, PICO California, Silicon Valley DeBug, STOP Coalition, UDW America – AFSCME Local 3930, Youth Justice Coalition