California Act to Save Lives - AB 392

California Act to Save Lives - AB 392

“We need to ensure that our state policy governing the use of deadly force stresses the sanctity of human life and is only used when necessary.”

Police officers in California kill more people at a rate that is 37% higher than the national average. In 2017, officers killed 172 people in California, only half were armed with guns. Under current law, police officers can use deadly force whenever an “objectively reasonable” officer would have done the same. Current law provides legal cover for killings that were not necessary. Not only have the results been fatal but also damaging to the relationship between the community and police officers. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber stands at the forefront of the California Act to Save Lives to demand better policing of our communities that are being harmed by those whose duty is to protect and serve. New policies would demand requirements for when the use of deadly force is authorized.

  • Use of lethal force would be authorized only when necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death.
  • Police departments can discipline or fire officers who use unnecessary deadly force.
  • Officers could face criminal charges where the use of force was not in self-defense or in defense of another person.
  • Officers should use warnings, verbal persuasion, or other nonlethal methods of resolution or de-escalation where the use of deadly force is not deemed necessary.

Where use-of-force limits are already in place, there has been a decrease of more than 30% in both murder rates and nonfatal shootings and an increase in anonymous tips that show an improvement in community relations. This reform reflects policies that policing experts recognize as effective at better preserving life while also allowing officers the autonomy needed to ensure public safety.

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What Others Are Saying

Police Kill Latinos Disproportionately. Latino Legislators Must Stand Up for Reform
The Sacramento Bee - March 29

This is a matter of life and death. There’s no turning back the clock when officers shoot and kill someone.

How many more people must be killed - and how many families must be shattered - before we take the issue of police shootings seriously? We know there are solutions that can work to keep both our communities and our officers safe.

1872 Law Gives a License to Kill
Calmatters - March 7

Police work can be very dangerous, to be certain, and most officers are very reluctant to shoot people. However, we are seeing far too many cases of shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later. That might have been acceptable in 1872 California. It can’t be in the 21st century.

Editorial: California Police Changes Needed after Stephon Clark Killing
The Mercury News - March 10

Assembly members Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, want to tighten that “reasonable force” standard. They’re proposing sensible legislation, AB 392, that would require that, if safe and reasonable, a police officer first attempt to use tactics like time, distance and communication to reduce the need for force. But the bill would still allow the use of deadly force when necessary to defend against the threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury.

To Save Lives, Deadly Force Policy Needs Serious Reform – Not Window Dressing
The Sacramento Bee - February 23

Evidence suggests AB 392 may be exactly what California needs to reduce the unnecessary use of deadly force. In Seattle, where police adopted more stringent rules as part of a federal consent decree, police use of force has dropped, “without officer injuries going up,” according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.

In addition: “Force has gone down without crime going up, demonstrating that constitutional policing does not require sacrificing public safety.”

Reform Works, So Why Do Police Groups Continue to Resist Necessary Change?
The Sacramento Bee - March 31

Law enforcement groups working to stop AB 392 should follow the lead of the police chiefs who have embraced reform. We all want to keep our police officers safe. We can do that while also making our cities safer for citizens who come into contact with police.

Editorial: Democrats’ Test of Wills on Police use of Force
San Francisco Chronicle - February 7

Police do dangerous, difficult work, but unreasonable deference to excessive force imperils those they should be protecting.

Editorial: Police Use of Lethal Force: It’s Time for California to Raise its Standard
The San Diego Tribune - March 15

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board has long advocated for criminal justice reform and has been heartened by the momentum the reform movement has built in recent years. But while our board has decried what appeared to be the unnecessary killing by police of unarmed civilians - often young African-American men - members have balked at endorsing a change in the California Law that allows police officers to use lethal force if an officer believes it is objectively reasonable to do so under the circumstances.

Until now.

Editorial: AB392, California’s Deadly Force Reform Bill, Faces a Crucial Vote
San Francisco Chronicle - April 8 

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