Landmark California Bill Will Save Lives and Bring Accountability to Policing

Committee advances AB 931, a bill that will change California’s deadly use of force standard and prevent unnecessary police killings 

(From Press Release) — Today, the California Senate Committee on Public Safety advanced legislation to update California’s deadly use of force standard to reduce the number of people killed by law enforcement in the state. AB 931, introduced by Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), is heralded as an important step toward saving lives and repairing police-community relations.

The legislation will change California’s legal standard to ensure peace officers do not use deadly force when alternatives exist—a standard that matches best practices already in place at other police departments—setting the tone for states across the country to do the same. The bill also specifies that an officers’ conduct leading up to a shooting should be considered in determining whether deadly force is justified.

“Today is a significant step forward for California. AB 931 clarifies that police should prioritize the de-escalation of situations before they turn deadly,” said Mar Velez of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ). “While this seems like a common-sense standard, it isn’t the current practice in California. Now we call on the rest of the legislature and the governor to pass this critical reform.”

Current state law allows police officers to use deadly force when it isn’t necessary and even when alternative tactics exist and are available to them. Under this law, California police departments shoot and kill Californians with alarming frequency and are rarely held accountable. In fact, a 2015 report by the Guardian found that police in Kern County killed more people per capita than in any other county in the United States.

Nationwide, there are enormous racial disparities in police use of force. Studies show police kill unarmed young Black men at more than twenty times the rate they kill young white men. In addition, Black women are more likely to be have been unarmed when killed by police than non-Black people.

“As we commemorate Juneteenth, a celebration of survival in the face of racial terror and injustice from generation to generation, we also reckon with the fact that today, our challenge to freedom and justice continues,” said Pastor Les Simmons with PICO California federation Sacramento ACT. “State violence in the form of unjustified police killings continues to plague our communities, particularly communities of color. With AB 931, California will usher meaningful change to overcome this legacy of violence and prevent unnecessary deaths at the hands of law enforcement.”

Several police agencies and law enforcement organizations have recommended or already adopted stricter use of force standards similar to those proposed under AB 931. Officers at agencies with stricter use of force policies kill fewer people and are less likely to be killed or seriously injured themselves. For example, Seattle saw a reduction in the number of people killed by police without any impact on overall safety.

“My cousin was only 14—14 years young when he was killed by law enforcement in Santa Ana, California,” said Ellie Virrueta of the Youth Justice Coalition. “AB 931 can’t bring back those lost lives, but it will ensure that police prioritize de-escalation tactics to cool down situations and prevent interactions from reaching the point where anyone’s life is in danger.”

AB 931 is sponsored by the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU of California, Anti Police-Terror Project, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), PICO California, Policy Link, and Youth Justice Coalition LA. For more information visit act.colorofchange.org/sign/AB931 and follow #AB931 and #NoMoreCopOuts.


Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$USD
Sign up for

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

16 thoughts on “Landmark California Bill Will Save Lives and Bring Accountability to Policing”

  1. Howard P

    Studies show police kill unarmed young Black men at more than twenty times the rate they kill young white men. In addition, Black women are more likely to be have been unarmed when killed by police than non-Black people.

    Want to assume that “unarmed” applies across racial/gender lines… not clear here…

    For ex:  if unarmed black folk are killed at a greater rate than armed white folk… that is a severe problem, and flat out wrong/immoral… if we correct for “being armed”, would still be disturbed about the “rates” based on race or gender…

    1. Ken A

      I’m not a big cop defender and think the guys that shot Stephon Clark should be charged and go to jail for murder.

      To be fair to the cops it is important to point out that “unarmed” black men physically attack “armed” cops (of all races) many times more often than “unarmed” white men (and “unarmed” black women physically attack “armed” cops over 100x more often than “unarmed” white woman).

      Before anyone screams “white privilege” it is important to remember that cops shoot (and kill) more white people than any other race in America year after year and note that since Asian men and woman physically attack cops LESS often than white men and women they are shot and killed less often.

      1. David Greenwald

        You’re kind of playing fast and loose with statistics.

        But one interesting statistic I found – the number of cops intentionally killed by anything other than a gun over the last decade in the world is near zero.

        From Franklin Zimring’s research: “Guns are the weapon used in more than 90 percent of all fatal attacks of police.” Ironically even in Britain where there are far less in the way of guns than the US, when police officers are killed, they are shot to death.

        He further found, “Knives and blunt objects killed no police officers in either nation.”

        To me that suggests that we ought to change how we deal with unarmed people because the true threat to police officers just isn’t there.

        1. Ken A

          The family of this officer must be happy that “Knives and blunt objects killed no police officers in either nation.”

          https://www.necn.com/news/new-england/Officer-Injured-in-Hartford-482923321.html

          Like most blue state papers the article does not have a photo of the woman that stabbed the officer but Google image search shows that she is not white or Asian.

          I’m wondering if David has ever been punched in the face or kicked in the ribs (when on the ground like the Davis Police officer on Picnic Day).

          A big reason that the study found that no officers have been killed by “unarmed” people is that they are typically shot (by the guy on the ground or his partner) after they take an officer to the ground and start beating on them.

        2. Ken A

          Speaking of “fast and loose” with statistics anyone that writes “the number of cops intentionally killed by anything other than a gun over the last decade in the world is near zero.” 

          Is either lying or can’t use Google.

          One of the reasons I’m not going to Mexico any more is that the number of “cops” killed by the drug cartels keeps increasing and they are often tortured and decapitated (not just “killed with a gun”).  It is not just cops getting killed, over 100 Mexican politicians have been killed since last September.

          https://www.vox.com/world/2018/6/14/17463474/mexico-election-murder-politicians-presidential-andres-manuel-lopez-obrador

  2. Jerry Waszczuk

    In fact, a 2015 report by the Guardian found that police in Kern County killed more people per capita than in any other county in the United State

    Maybe Edward Humes should write “Mean Justice ” Part II

     

    Besieged by murder, rape, and the most vile conspiracies, the all-American town of Bakersfield, California, found its saviors in a band of bold and savvy prosecutors who stepped in to create one of the toughest anti-crime communities in the nation. There was only one problem: many of those who were arrested, tried, and imprisoned were innocent citizens. In a work as taut and exciting as a suspense novel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Edward Humes embarks on a chilling journey to the dark side of the justice system. He reveals the powerful true story of retired high-school principal Pat Dunn’s battle to prove his innocence. And how Dunn, prosecuted for killing his wife to inherit her millions, was the victim of a case tainted by hidden witnesses, concealed evidence, and behind-the-scenes lobbying by powerful politicians. Even more disturbing, Humes demonstrates how the mean justice dispensed in Bakersfield is part of a growing national trend in which innocence has become the unintended casualty of today’s war on crime. American cities are enjoying their lowest crime rates in decades. But at what price? Mean Justice provides answers both compelling and frightening.

     

  3. Jeff M

    More “progress” made toward the liberal California dystopia.  Have you been to San Francisco lately?

    The state is growing in its bifurcation of have and have-nots.   The haves – racked with guilt and an insatiable need to signal virtue… and in perpetual search of scapegoats that deflect eyes from their life of privilege – have decided to blame law enforcement.  And in true dystopian style, work to muzzle those that would keep the peace to show the world how caring and empathetic the dystopians are to the little people they have successfully cut out of the system of economic prosperity.

    The secret here is that the dystopians tend to live in gated and exclusive communities and work in the types of professions where larceny, theft, gangs, violence, vagrancy, drug use… etc. don’t really impact them at a personal level.   And in terms of their tribal pursuits, the dystopians are better served with more crime and chaos on the streets as it prevents more from ascending into their economic ranks… thus protecting what they, the dystopians, have “earned” (or more likely looted).

    There are exceptions of course… a few dystopians actually live among those little people their heart bleeds for.  For them the virtue signaling call is very strong in deed… so strong that they are willing to suffer the increase of crime impacting them as they protest the “brutality” of law enforcement and demand change that isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

        1. Jim Frame

          The state is growing in its bifurcation of have and have-nots.

          I can go along with you there, but as soon as you start trotting out phrases like “racked with guilt” and “need to signal virtue” (note:  you left out “fear of change” this time) I roll my eyes and move on.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for