Use of Force Legislation Negotiations Prove Nothing Has Changed

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.

We would like to think the Legislature learns its lessons when one of their priority bills fails. That just so happened with AB 931 (Weber-D) in 2018. The bill would have raised the legal use of force standard from “objectively reasonable” as held by the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor, to “necessary.” CPOA opposed the bill all of 2018 and worked the hall of the capitol last summer to ensure its defeat. Here in 2019, the sponsors of the bill will not let go of any legal (criminal) liabilities they want to hold officers to. Again, CPOA will have a long and tough fight over this approach this year.

After many attempts to change language, AB 931 was held by the Legislature last year when the Senate knew they didn’t the votes to send it to the Governor. What didn’t help was that Dr. Weber gutted a 2017 version of AB 931 (that dealt with suicide prevention) and inserted her 2018 language nearly halfway into the legislative year. This year, CPOA has already met with Weber’s staff, Senate leadership staff and the bill’s supporters who want to avoid that mistake.

What we have heard, however, is that the ACLU and other groups writing 2019’s version of Use of Force legislation may even consider presenting a bill that goes far beyond what AB 931 did in 2018. Any attempt to legally challenge Graham v. Connor again will not sit well with CPOA or law enforcement in general. In fact, as part of our 2019 Legislative Platform & Priorities, we have stated:

“Oppose legislation that would challenge the use of force standards which are enshrined by federal and state statue and Case Law (e.g. Graham v. Connor, Tennessee v. Garner, etc.).

While a law enforcement coalition has been meeting to discuss alternative language to give legislators in 2019, CPOA stands ready to speak for you on such approaches to drastically change policing in California and reasonably oppose any attempts to reverse the proactive policing that has been good for agencies and communities.