By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.
Like our law enforcement partner associations and agencies, CPOA was blindsided with the proposed changes to AB 931, which would elevate the “reasonable” standard for an officer’s application of force, to “necessary.” While the proposal seems to be just a statutory word change, it breathes severe safety concerns for public safety personnel and the public. Even more disheartening, is that the authors of AB 931 did not consult law enforcement with the proposal, so we felt we needed to respond, which we did in full public disclosure.
When AB 931 authors Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) held a press conference on April 3rd announcing the bill, I was immediately contacted by various media outlets to gauge CPOA’s response. I took several media calls and explained our concern not only that the bill was proposed, but how it was proposed in that the authors did not consult with law enforcement prior to proposing such a drastic change in legal precedence over force use. Here are several media stories noting CPOA’s response:
On April 9th, CPOA joined our colleagues at the California Police Chiefs Association in a press conference in Fairfield to express severe concerns over the misconceptions about force use, and that danger it may place officers and the public.
Essentially, AB 931 amends PC 835a to say: “Notwithstanding any other law, an officer may use deadly force only when such force is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or a third party.”
The bill also defines deadly force and sets the precedence that “necessary” means considering the totality of circumstances, which include de-scalation tactics, conduct of the officer and additional verbal commands.
The bill amendments were made public on Tuesday, April 16th and you can read the bill here.