Bill Signed by Gov. Newsom Aims to Improve Officer Training

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SACRAMENTO -- A bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday hopes to change when and how often police use deadly force.

Senate Bill 230 was signed into law Thursday, less than one month after the governor passed companion measure Assembly Bill 392.

“You can change the law all you want, it’s the training that’s going to matter,” said California Police Chiefs Association President Ron Lawrence.

AB 392 set new legal standards for when police should open fire on a suspect, directing law enforcement to only use deadly force when “necessary.”

SB 230 addresses the details of making that happen by financing new police training across the state.

Lawrence said the new training will focus on de-escalating conflict and finding alternatives to deadly force.

“At the end of the day, what a peace officer responds to is their training, their muscle memory and how they were trained,” he told FOX40. “So, SB 230 is critically important to make sure that we have our officers trained in the right way so that we can save lives and protect our officers.”

Passage of the bills is widely seen as a show of compromise, with both law enforcement and community advocate groups getting a piece of what they wanted.

The brother of Stephon Clark, who was shot and killed by Sacramento police in 2018, said while the bills are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough.

“Slow progress is better than no progress,” said Stevante Clark. “We’re taking anything at this point, especially when it comes to training. But I think most importantly to me, no amount of training could have prevented from what happened in my grandmother’s backyard on the evening of March 18th.”

He shares the same hope as law enforcement groups, that through these measures, incidents involving police and deadly force will go down.

“What I’m hoping happens is that officers, at least, think twice. I want them to think twice,” Clark said.

“What we hope it accomplishes is even more professionalism in our policing profession but also to reduce use of force incidents in California, and also to make sure that all of our policies throughout California are consistent,” Lawrence said.

Because of this bill, $450,000 will go toward strengthening police guidelines and more than $10 million will fund officer training.

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