By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.
The controversial use of force legislation carried by Assembly members Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) has been set for a special-order hearing on April 9th in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. As the hearing approaches, AB 392 was amended on March 27th to make some changes to PC 196 and an officer’s self-defense rights. The alternative bill backed by various law enforcement groups, SB 230 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) has not been set for a hearing yet, but both bill hearings will no doubt be tense conversations regarding the appropriate course of action on lethal force encounters.
In preparation for the April 9th hearing in Assembly Public Safety, the bill was amended last week and made some noticeable changes to the bill. One such change, is the addition of language stating that “Individuals with physical, mental health, developmental or intellectual disabilities are significantly more likely to experience greater levels of physical force during police interactions, as their disability may affect their ability to understand or comply with commands from peace officers. It is estimated that individuals with disabilities are involved in between one-third and one-half of all fatal encounters with law enforcement.” While CPOA is not arguing that persons with mental health issues are often in a mindset that alters and/or dictates their behavior, the fact that this language was inserted into AB 392 is telling to me, mostly of the Legislature’s approach to viewing use of force incidents as a problem with police too quickly killing persons with mental health disabilities. We know that simply is not true.
Another amendment made last week includes changes to PC 196 in such a way that no officer will have self-defense rights if a person was killed due to “criminally negligent conduct of the officer.” The situations described in this change include instances where a victim is a person other than the person the officer was seeking to arrest, retain in custody, or defend against. This change is absolutely unacceptable to CPOA. It not only insinuates that all of an officer’s conduct in a use of force encounter is criminally negligent but gives me as an ordinary citizen more self-defense rights than the law enforcement officer I call to assist me when I perceive that my life is threatened. The current language of AB 392 serves as a direct violation of Graham v. Connor, as well as a violation of equal protection of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
There is little doubt that most, if not all, law enforcement and public safety groups will oppose AB 392 when it is heard in committee next week. Concerns you have, and a request to “vote no on AB 392” can be directed to members of the Assembly Public Safety Committee who will be voting on the bill:
Asm. Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D)
59th Assembly District (Florence-Fireston, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Walnut Park)
Asm. Tom Lackey (R)
36th Assembly District (Lancaster, Palmdale, Mojave, Santa Clarita)
Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D)
16th Assembly District (Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Walnut Creek)
Asm. Tyler Diep (R)
72nd Assembly District (Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Westminster)
Asm. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D)
54Th Assembly District (Beverly Hills, Culver City, Marina Del Rey, Venice, West L.A.)
Asm. Bill Quirk (D)
20th Assembly District (Hayward, Pleasanton, Union City, San Leandro, San Lorenzo)
Asm. Miguel Santiago (D)
53th Assembly District (Los Angeles, Vernon)
Asm. Buffy Wicks (D)
15th Assembly District (Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Oakland, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo)