SACRAMENTO — A landmark bill limiting when officers can use lethal force passed the state Assembly.
Assembly Bill 392 passed with overwhelming support Wednesday.
“We needed to do something significant in California to change the narrative, to change the culture of policing, and we think we have done that,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego.
After more than a year of calls for change in policing, AB 392 overcame its biggest hurdle yet, getting a 68-0 vote.
“It was a bipartisan effort, as you saw, and so we’re very appreciative of that,” Weber said.
The bill changes the standard for when officers can use deadly force from when it’s reasonable to only when it’s necessary.
A number of law enforcement groups first opposed the bill, saying it makes officers less safe. But in a surprise turnaround just days ago, nearly all of them pulled their opposition back.
“We were able to get some important changes in that piece legislation,” said Sacramento Police Officers Association President Timothy Davis.
Davis said after negotiations law enforcement groups won some concessions.
Now, the bill states officers’ actions will not be judged in hindsight, but instead by their mindset in the moment of a police shooting. Officers will also not be criminally liable for negligent deaths. A provision that required officers to exhaust all non-lethal options first was removed.
“If our officers can better deescalate situations, if they can avoid use-of-force situations, then everybody is safer,” Davis told FOX40.
But supporters, like Lizzie Buchen with the American Civil Liberties Union, say despite the amendments, the heart of the bill remains the same.
“The foundation that it’s always had, which is to raise the standard in California for when an officer can use deadly force,” she said.
Buchen said AB 392 makes California one of the strongest states in the country on police reform and added it’s not anti-police. She said it’s about saving lives.
“Officers are never going to be asked to do something if it is going to endanger their lives,” Buchen told FOX40. “We just want to make sure that they’re not endangering the lives of others.”
The ACLU and Weber do not think any of the amendments fundamentally change the bill.