DOJ 2017 Crime Report Shows Why AB 931 is Dangerous

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.

Last week the CA Department of Justice released a series of reports, one which was 2017 crime statistics. The report detailed facts that the law enforcement knew, but the public and the Legislature have mostly rejected. That among these, are the increases in assaults against peace officers with firearms. Additionally, the total number of criminal complaints against officers has fallen to its lowest since 1987. Upon legislators return from their Summer Recess next month, AB 931 (Weber-D) is scheduled to be taken up in Appropriations Committee on August 6th. These just-released facts show why the bill would severely endanger the lives of officers and the public.

Of the many reports that DOJ released, “Crime in California 2017” presents some unique figures that completely discredit public claims and media stories that cops are just out there killing unarmed men, particularly of color. These facts are even more interesting in the wake of legislation like AB 931, which seeks to raise the legal force standard from “objectively reasonable” to “necessary.” That bill would put peace officers in even more risk as they would be second guessing themselves in every contact made, as civilian behavior can escalate very quickly into situations that lead to lethal force applications.

Particularly distressing are the following facts form the report:

  • Violent crime for every 100,000 Californians rose 1.5% from 2016-2017.
  • The total number of reported criminal complaints against peace officers fell to its lowest since 1987.
  • The total number of peace officers assaulted in the line of duty increased from 2016-2017 by 837.
  • From 2016 to 2017, the total number of LE officers assaulted with a firearm increased 25.1%, while the number assaulted with a knife or other cutting instrument decreased 9.9%.

Furthermore, AB 931 attempts to amend PC 835(a) with language such as “peace officers shall attempt to control and incident by using time, distance, communications, and available resources in an effort to deescalate a situation whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so.” The bill, however, fails to define “time, distance or communication,” adding to further confusion at the local level. With peace officers being assaulted with firearms over 25% more than in previous years, AB 931 is just plain dangerous.

The Legislature needs to not make rash decisions based upon emotion but look at the totality of the facts before them. CPOA will be urging this direction over the next few weeks in preparation for AB 931’s hearing in Senate Appropriations Committee at 10:00 a.m. on August 6th in Room 4203 of the Capitol.