Police group calls use-of-force bill 'dangerous'

California Lawmakers Seek Change in Police Lethal Force Standard After Stephon Clark Shooting

The goal is to encourage officers to try to defuse confrontations or use less-lethal weapons, said Terry Schanz, a spokesman for Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento. "We need to ensure our state policies govern the use of deadly force stresses the sanctity of human life and is only used when necessary". In that ruling, the court said police force should be deemed "reasonable" under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ─ which protects against unlawful search and seizure ─ only by judging "from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight" and by taking into consideration "split-second judgments" about "the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation". Police in Kern County have killed more people per capita than in any other USA county, according to a 2015 report.

A controversial proposal that would severely restrict when police officers can open fire was offered Tuesday in California.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California, which represents over 70,000 public safety members, says the measure will require officers in unsafe situations to employ a checklist that ultimately places everyone at risk.

Buchen said the current standard "gives very broad discretion for using deadly force".

Advocates of the bill say they want police to think of possible alternatives, which include warnings, verbal persuasion or other non-lethal methods.

"Existing use-of-force laws have made an encounter with law enforcement - no matter how ordinary and no matter whether an individual is unarmed or even cooperative - into one that ends in the death of a civilian", Weber said.

The ACLU is also sponsoring another law enforcement reform bill introduced following Clark's death.




California's current standard makes it rare for officers to be charged after a shooting and rarer still for them to be convicted.

"We want to put it in their mind that there are other options that they should utilize prior to that, that using deadly force is an extreme option", Weber told the news organization.

An independent autopsy found that Clark was shot eight times, and six of those wounds were in his back, according to Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist retained by Clark's family to conduct a second autopsy. If an officer doesn't follow the proposed guidelines or use nonlethal techniques before shooting, they could be fired or even face criminal charges.

If the bill is passed, California would be the first state to adopt this kind of standard, the AP reports, though there are some law enforcement agencies with similar rules in place.

Cities' strict standards are generally for situations where there is time to de-escalate volatile situations, such as with people who are mentally unstable, Obayashi said.

Assemblywoman Weber, who heads a public safety oversight committee, said she hopes the recent heavily publicized string of police shootings of minority suspects and mass protests over last month's death of Mr. Clark will be enough to overcome any law enforcement resistance.

Studies show that when officers operate under more restrictive policies, not only are they less likely to kill suspects, they are less likely to be assaulted or killed themselves. California police departments have some of the highest rates of killings in the nation: Bakersfield, Stockton, Long Beach, Santa Ana and San Bernardino are all in the top 15.

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