They call it “Assembly Bill 392”.
That’s probably because they don’t want you to know what it actually is.
It’s an attempt to remove one of the key ways that officers can protect their own lives in California, all in the name of “social justice”.
It’s already cleared its first hurdle in a 5-2 vote at a Committee on Public Safety. And mark my words – if it passes in California, it will spread elsewhere.
Here’s what it does. It updates the current “reasonable” deadly force standard to “necessary”. It would also make it easier to file criminal charges against cops who use lethal force.
A Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy wrote an op-ed this week on how this bill could have put him in prison after a split-second encounter where he was shot and his partner was killed.
He said he and his partner had been called to a disturbance at a local auto store involving an unruly customer.
The person was in the store when they arrived, but there was no indication that he had a gun.
As the officers approached, he backed up and started moving as if he were about to run.
His partner headed to the front door to block him, while the other officer tried to stop him from the other side. That’s when the suspect pulled out a gun and shot the partner in the head and back, then continued firing.
“I immediately returned fire and took action to defend my partner, the store’s employees and customers, and people in the neighboring stores. I was shot but kept fighting. Like every cop I know, I take my sworn oath to protect and serve seriously.”
He says the proposed legislation would have cost more lives.
“But under AB 392, my decision to stay and protect customers and other “innocents” could be challenged and second-guessed, with criminal prosecution a very real possibility for me. Why didn’t I retreat? That was clearly an option.”
The writer points out that the shooter MIGHT have left…. but he also MIGHT have shot everyone else in the store then moved on to other stores.
“I had seconds to decide without the luxury of hindsight, under deadly and chaotic circumstances in which people were dying.”
AB 392 could have landed this officer in prison for responding with deadly force.
Supporters say the bill is “squarely in line with best practices”. Those of us who know better argue it creates an impossible standard.
No shocker here – the woman who wrote the bill is a Democrat from San Diego with as much experience in law enforcement as a box of nails. But apparently she knows what’s best. She’s calling it the “California Act To Save Lives”.
More like the “California Act To Kill Cops”. She claims it prevents “unnecessary deaths” by “clarifying law enforcement’s obligations.”
She’s got a team behind it, and they have “determined” it would push officers to rely on “de-escalation techniques like verbal persuasion and crisis intervention methods instead of lethal force”.
Of course she claims that would “better protect the lives of black and brown Californians who are disproportionately shot and killed by police”.
She pushed for something similar last year after “conversations with law enforcement” didn’t bring about a compromise.
Perhaps it’s because her plan is idiotic, and the rationale behind it is a clear manipulation of data?
This time she updated the bill to “clarify that officers can use deadly force in the face of imminent danger”.
Shane LaVigne works with the California Fraternal Order of Police. He said AB 392 creates an “impossible standard” and that officers often face “tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving” life and death situations.
“The problem is the standard would be applied in hindsight,” LaVigne said, and that it creates a standard that requires “superhuman decision making that is simply not possible.”
That means cops would be vulnerable to Monday-morning-quarterbacking, and it’s pretty damn hard to identify other options in critical moments when there’s immediate danger.
“That hesitation will result in a loss of life,” said Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale, “and I don’t think anyone wants that.”
The California State Sheriffs’ Association agrees.
“In addition to creating tremendous and routinely life-threatening risk to peace officers, AB 392 could discourage proactive policing,” they said.
It also sets America up for destruction in the future.
“Fearing repercussions ranging from employee discipline to criminal prosecution based on this new standard, it is possible that officers who today would purposefully put themselves in harm’s way to do their job might tomorrow decline to act.”
The hearing lasted nearly three hours.
Then came the tears.
Sydney Kamlager-Dove, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said she would support the bill because she’s the stepmother of black children.
“I don’t want any of us to live in fear,” Kamlager-Dove said.
Gee – here’s an idea. Don’t raise your kids to break the law or attack cops, eh? This has nothing to do with color and everything to do with bad parenting.
In the meantime, there’s another police-backed measure called Senate Bill 230 which is an alternative.
This would require police agencies to have a policy on use-of-force guidelines. Seems like a good compromise to me.
Here’s the thing. The lawmakers backing SB-392 are demanding that police either do the impossible or unnecessarily die trying. It’s a lose-lose. You either die or you face prison time for making split-second decisions when lives are at risk.
It relies on emotion and public perception instead of reality and facts. It removes clarification of use-of-force policies, does nothing to enhance training and instead inserts subjective opinions into the Monday-morning-quarterbacking process that could be a life-or-death determination for a law enforcement officer or his career.
It turns police officers who are looking out for public safety into criminals by destroying their right to defend themselves.
This isn’t about protecting the community or anyone other than criminals. It’s what happens when social justice warriors are allowed to get involved in the legislative process… and both the bill and those proposing it need to be overwhelmingly rejected.