Changes in California Policing

Since 2016, the number of use-of-force situations by police has dropped by 20 percent. Moreover, the number of cases resulting in death, serious injury, and/or discharge of a firearm has decreased to 628. In 2016 the total was 782, and in 2017 it was 707.

The statistics and data for the situations became accessible in a crime report from the California Department of Justice this past Tuesday. The report also indicated how officers were using different methods of enforcement, such as chokeholds or electronic devices, instead of deadly force.

This report was coincidentally released at the same time as a bill regarding the employment of deadly force was introduced in the state assembly. Assembly Bill 392 seeks to change the legal standard of deadly force usage from “reasonable” to “necessary,” making it only applicable in near-death cases.

The inspiration for the bill came from wanting to implement the most effective techniques seen from departments across the country. Furthermore, the legislation addresses the social issues that have been produced from recent gun violence. If the bill is passed, it will enforce new training for officers and policy updates to match the latest legal requirements.

There have been mixed reactions to AB 392. Certain advocacy groups have expressed their support, stating it would establish needed repercussions for law enforcement officers. Law enforcement agencies support the bill, contingent on criminal liability being negated for officers having to use deadly force.

On the other hand, police lobbyists expressed their opposition because it could cause hesitation for officers faced with imminent danger. They argued that the uncertainty would result in a higher risk of harm for both officers and citizens. The bill must still pass through the state senate and be signed by Governor Newsom before it can become law.


Photo by Tomas Del Coro via Flickr