Capitol Alert

New California law pays police departments to train cops on when to use deadly force

With Stevante Clark at his side, Gavin Newsom speaks at police use-of-force bill signing

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the signing of AB 392, believed to be one of the toughest laws in the country regulating when police can use use deadly force, on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Stevante Clark, brother of slain Stephon Clark, stands next to him.
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Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the signing of AB 392, believed to be one of the toughest laws in the country regulating when police can use use deadly force, on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Stevante Clark, brother of slain Stephon Clark, stands next to him.

A month after signing one of the most sweeping use-of-force laws in the country, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a companion measure on Thursday that will finance new training and require police departments to upgrade their policies.

Senate Bill 230 mandates law enforcement agencies to rewrite their use-of-force policies to comply with legislation passed in August that directs law enforcement to use deadly force only when “necessary,” based on the totality of circumstances they encounter.

“Peace officers play a very important role in our society, and it is critical to ensure they have the appropriate training that aligns with our new use-of-force law,” Newsom said in a statement, continuing that SB 230 “establishes the nation’s most robust state-level use-of-force training guidelines for law enforcement officers that focus on de-escalation, crisis intervention, bias free policing and only using deadly force when absolutely necessary.”

With Newsom’s signature, police departments will also have to change training guidelines to reflect the new law’s emphasis on deescalation strategies.

Once a competing measure, SB 230 was amended in April to support Assembly Bill 392’s effort to overhaul California’s deadly force law.

After lengthy negotiations, Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, revised the police-backed proposal to finance and enforce the Assembly version sponsored by advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.

#SB230 is proof that when we work together, we can accomplish great things,” tweeted Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “Use-of-force is one of the most challenging issues our state has faced, and SB 230 is key to the solution. Thank you to @CAGovernor, @CASenCaballero, and all of my colleagues that made today a reality.”

The law also allocates up to $450,000 for the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training to strengthen guidelines and sets aside more than $10 million for officers to attend the courses.

The commission’s new training will “stress” law enforcement’s role in safeguarding “life, dignity, and liberty of all persons, without prejudice to anyone,” according to the bill analysis.

The coursework will also include use-of-force review and analysis, cultural competency, reporting requirements and how to deescalate situations involving persons with mental illness.

“To our California communities that have called for change, we heard you,” said Rick LaBeske, president of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen. “To our men and women in law enforcement who are committed to building positive and lasting relationships with the communities you serve, we thank you. To an entire nation grappling with how to change use-of-force policies, let this serve as an example that by working together, it can be done.”

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.
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