Law Enforcement Groups Back Less Stringent 'Use Of Force' Restrictions In California Legislature

Apr 8, 2019

Just days before a showdown in the California Legislature over when police can use deadly force, law enforcement groups are embracing reforms recommended by Attorney General Xavier Becerra after the Sacramento police shooting of Stephon Clark. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.

There are two rival use-of-force bills at the state Capitol. One, backed by civil liberties advocates and community activists, would strengthen the legal standard for when police officers can use deadly force from “reasonable” to “necessary.” The other, pushed by law enforcement groups, would leave the “reasonable” standard in place but increase training for state and local law enforcement agencies. And it’s that second bill that’s getting amendments.

Caballero: “We’re gonna have statewide policies that have to be included in their own guidelines.” (0:05)

Democratic Senator Anna Caballero says she’s amending her bill to include best practices from progressive cities nationwide — and almost all of the attorney general’s recommendations.

Caballero: “Every police department, every agency would have to send their officers back for retraining. It’s a culture shift. And the goal would be to make sure we have alternatives to deadly use of force.” (0:11)

So far, there’s been no committee hearing set for Caballero’s bill. The other measure faces its first committee vote on Tuesday. There’s a sense at the Capitol that it’s short on votes, but Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber says she’s “optimistic” her bill will advance without major amendments.

People gather for a vigil for Stephon Clark shortly after the Sacramento man was shot and killed by police in his grandmother's back yard.
Credit Capital Public Radio

Weber: “Necessary – it will always be the piece that’s there. And that’s the crux and the heart of the bill. So we’re not looking at changing ‘necessary.’”

Ben: “But there’s different ways of defining the word ‘necessary’.”

Weber: “Exactly. And we are more than willing to talk to folks about how do they define it.” (0:14)

At the state Capitol, I’m Ben Adler.