California’s new police use of force regulations take effect in new year

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (NEXSTAR) -- With the new year will come new policies for police officers across California.

2020 will bring a major update to police use of deadly force policies and training.

The new measure changes the current language in the law, which allows police to use deadly force, from when reasonable to only when necessary. It will still be up to prosecutors to interpret how those words differ.

In addition to setting one of the strictest use of force standards in the country, California will also prohibit police from firing their weapons on fleeing felons who don't pose any immediate danger.

By 2021, all departments must establish clear and specific use of force guidelines, including a minimum standard for using deadly force and specific situations in which officers may or may not draw or point their firearm at a person.

California's peace officer commission will develop mandatory training for officers that includes de-escalation tactics, explicit and implicit bias, cultural competency, and mental health policing.

The new set of laws was inspired by the death of Stephon Clark, who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers in his grandmother’s backyard. Officers had mistaken his cell phone for a gun.

State leaders have said the new standards are a symbol of compromise after years of contention between police and civil rights groups.


Ashley Zavala filed this report.

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