California’s police use of force bill gains support and approval from civil rights groups

Concerned groups agree on changes on rules for when law enforcement agents may use lethal tactics in when dealing with criminal suspects

Law enforcement groups and civil rights advocates on Thursday reached an agreement and announced their collective support of new rules dealing with California police use of deadly force.

Assembly Bill 392 now outlines that a police officer can only use deadly force when it is “necessary” and no other options are available. The wording replaced the term “reasonable,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

READ MORE: In aftermath of Stephon Clark death, California looks to narrow when police can use force

The bill was part of a contentious debate in California after an unarmed Black man, Stephon Clark was gunned down, sparking outrage over how police handled his arrest which resulted in his death.

“This is an important bill, one that will help restore community trust in our criminal justice system,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said while the changes addressing major issues, his group is still not backing it.

“We will not support the bill, as it is far from perfect, but the amendments have addressed our biggest fears,” Hernandez said in a statement.

“With so many unnecessary deaths, I think everyone agrees that we need to change how deadly force is used in California,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the bill’s author, in a statement. “We can now move a policy forward that will save lives and change the culture of policing in California.”

READ MORE: California advances biggest US change to police use of force

The bill is expected to pass the Assembly before next week.

Shane LaVigne, a lobbyist for the California Fraternal Order of Police, said bill creates an “impossible standard”.

“The problem is the standard would be applied in hindsight,” which requires, “superhuman decision making that is simply not possible,” she told the Sacramento Bee.

“This is a strong bill that moves California from having one of the most permissive use-of-force statutes in the country to the strongest necessary standard,” said Peter Bibring, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped write the bill. “This bill will save lives.”