California Assembly Bill 392, known as the California Act to Save Lives, has a passed a crucial hearing vote and is set to be voted on within the State of California Legislature.
The bill updates the current “reasonable” deadly force standard to “necessary,” and would make it easier to file criminal charges against officers who use lethal force if other enforcement options are available.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the bill prevents “unnecessary deaths” by “clarifying law enforcement’s obligations.” The bill’s main author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego,said the the legislation would push officers to rely on de-escalation techniques like verbal persuasion and crisis intervention methods instead of lethal force, which would better protect the lives of black and brown Californians who are disproportionately shot and killed by police.
The proposal is backed by dozens of organizations across the state and has earned staunch public support after the death of Stephon Clark in Sacramento launched the bill into the limelight.
One mother, whose son was shot and killed by police, passionately told the committee hearing the bill that the “Police know the magic words. ‘I fear for my life.'”
Law Officer Director of Training, Travis Yates, calls the Bill one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation to ever be proposed not only for law enforcement but for the public as a whole.
“First, many of those speaking in support of this bill are simply lying to the public in an effort to gain support,” Yates told us. Citing the “I fear for my life” saying that has been so widely said, Yates calls that a flat out lie.
“In 1989, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Graham versus Connor exactly what the standard is in police use of force. The words ‘fear for my life’ are never mentioned and the standard that is mentioned, ‘reasonableness’ is a long held standard within the fourth amendment…..an important amendment for not only law enforcement but for the general public,” Yates told us.
Yates also said that citing the Stephon Clark case as a reason to change the law in California is “ridiculous at best.”
“This suspect was breaking into cars. He ran from responding officers. He turned and simulated the pointing of a weapon at officers, at night and all of it was caught on video. So to blame the cops and a 30 year old deadly force standard that has stood tall for decades with numerous court challenges, is ridiculous and it is exactly why so many lies have to be told to justify this dangerous legislative act.”
Yates continued, “California is not the United States Supreme Court and everyone behind this legislative action should be ashamed of themselves. If passed, good, decent law enforcement professionals will leave their jobs, they will leave the state and violent criminals will reign. It is laughable that those that sit in judgment of law enforcement on whether their force is ‘necessary’ will do it from their comfortable confines in a Sacramento Legislative Office and not on the streets at night with violent criminals attacking them, running from them and even simulating shooting them.”
Robert Johnson is a 20 year veteran law enforcement officer currently working at a large metropolitan agency. His assignments have included narcotics, gangs and training. He joined Law Officer in 2017 as an Associate Editor.