There is no doubt that social change is at the forefront of nearly everyone’s mind. As Californians, we are used to being the trendsetters of the country and bring about changes that to other areas of the U.S. One example is the ongoing debate over when and how the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, which is now being put before the public and the California legislature.
The Los Angeles Sentinel reports that San Diego Democratic Assembly member, Shirley Weber, wrote the bill, AB 392, also known as The California Act to Save Lives. The bill aims to limit the use of deadly force by police that has disproportionately resulted in the loss of the lives of Latinos and African Americans in the state of California. The bill has now passed the first stage of becoming law with the Assembly of Public Safety Committee voting 5 -2 in favor. The bill will next be reviewed by the Rules Committee.
At issue is changing the language of the current law including changing the word, “reasonable” force, to the word “necessary” when describing the use of deadly force by police. The bill would also change the California Penal Code with regard to cases involving justifiable homicides committed by law enforcement officers. This move would potentially expose officers to both civil and criminal liabilities if passed into law.
Weber said in the interview that her goal was to “change the culture of policing in California and prioritize the sanctity of life – not victimize law enforcement.” Weber said that she wrote the bill in the hopes that it can somehow address some of the issues of race which have been going on for more than 400 years.
The bill has been met with strong opposition from law enforcement officers as well as the groups and unions which support them.
If passed, AB 392 would be the only law in the U.S. which limits the use of force by law enforcement officers.