California law enforcement organizations are in staunch opposition to a new bill which would restrict the circumstances under which police officers can use deadly force in the line of duty, reports Alexei Koseff of the Sacramento Bee.
Assembly Bill 931 would increase the state mandated standard for the use of lethal force from "reasonable" to "necessary" in order to become law. While the bill passed through its first policy committee on Tuesday, it faces an uphill battle in a state legislature that typically doesn't cross law enforcement.
"We agree that more training can result in better outcomes, but there is a fundamental disagreement about raising the standard above what the Supreme Court has said," Jonathan Feldman, a lobbyist for the California Police Chiefs Association, told The Bee. -Sacramento Bee
Two cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1980s set a legal precedent that police officers can kill suspects if a "reasonable" officer in a similar situation would have done the same. AB 931 - introduced this spring following the South Sacramento shooting death of Stephon Clark - would restrict police to using deadly force only in situations where they have no available alternatives to protect themselves or others.
Clark, 22, was shot 20 times while holding his cell phone on March 18, sparking a public outrage.
Retraining over 100,000 California police under the new standards has been raised as a concern by the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) - an argument which CA Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles pushed back against.
"Is it a mere matter of cost? And from your perspective, what would constitute or justify retraining of police officers?" she asked.
"The training is huge. It's going to be a difficult task to train that many people that fast, and there's no money in the bill to do that," Aaron Read, a PORAC lobbyist, who noted that law enforcement organizations had supported legislation several years ago to add training on how to handle suspects with mental health issues.
Mitchell questioned whether finding enough money was the real issue, because - she said when "law enforcement makes it a priority, we find a way."
"I've sat on public safety committees since I was elected, and I can count on one hand the number of times law enforcement has come to the table to truly collaboratively address issues," said Mitchell. "Perhaps mental health is politically an easier pill to swallow than race-based bias."
Democratic lawmakers moved AB 931 out of the public safety with an initial vote of 5-1 in front of supporters carrying pictures of friends and family who have been killed by police, many of whom say police shootings are racially motivated.
"It always blows me away when law enforcement fear for their life only when they're facing black and...