This article has been updated since the original publishing date to include the perspective of the Santa Cruz Police Department and the bill’s text.
In response to the Sacramento police shooting of Stephon Clark — a 22-year-old unarmed Black man — California legislators proposed a bill that would limit firearm use by police officers.
The bill, The Police Accountability and Community Protection Act (AB 931), was co-introduced by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) on April 3. AB 931 would change the current guidelines on police violence from “reasonable force” to “necessary force,” which would permit officers to discharge their weapons only when there are no clear alternatives.
In a press conference announcing the bill, Assemblymember Weber explained, “We need to ensure that our state policy governing the use of deadly force stresses the sanctity of human life and is only used when necessary.”
Unarmed Black men are seven times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white men, according to a 2016 study by the University of Louisville and University of South Carolina — which gave the researchers reasonable suspicion that police officers have an implicit bias against Black men.
However, five California police unions already announced their opposition to this bill, with the Los Angeles Police Protective League claiming that “If enacted, [the bill] will either get cops killed or allow criminals to terrorize our streets unchecked.”
Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) additionally commented on AB 931, citing lack of transparency as the main concern.
“Every other law always included whoever the stakeholders are in the process. […] By excluding the heads of 80,000 law enforcement officers in the state makes no sense and it makes this smell like a very non-transparent way of trying to jam through legislation without it being seen by everybody,” said SCPD Chief Andrew Mills.
The bill is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which released a statement quickly after the bill’s introduction.
“The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and so many others since, have laid bare this truth: our country’s laws protect the police, not the people,” the ACLU said in a statement in response to the bill.
You can now access the bill at leginfo.com