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California lawmakers send governor police training bill

Posted at 6:55 AM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-12 09:55:45-04

California lawmakers on Wednesday sent Gov. Gavin Newsom the second half of a two-bill legislative package intended to deter shootings by police by requiring officers to take training in ways to avoid using lethal force.

The Senate gave final approval to the bill less than a month after the Democratic governor signed a related law setting new legal standards for when officers can open fire. That measure, which takes effect Jan. 1, will allow police to use deadly force only when needed to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers or bystanders.

Newsom also supported the second measure. Experts said the combination would give California among the nation’s most comprehensive response to shootings by police that have roiled the nation in recent years. They include the killing of unarmed vandalism suspect Stephon Clark in Sacramento that set off protests in the state’s capital city last year.

“California will set a new national standard that every other state can look to as a model when updating their own use of force policies,” Democratic Sen. Anna Caballero of Salinas said in a statement.

Her bill would require officers to learn ways to de-escalate confrontations and alternatives to shooting suspects. That includes training officers in how to work with suspects who are homeless, of different cultures, are mentally ill, on drugs or have communication issues that can lead to deadly confrontations.

Major law enforcement organizations had dropped their opposition to the earlier bill setting new legal standards in part because they expected the training measure to also become law.

“SB230 will provide officers with the tools and training they have been asking for to make a real difference in public safety outcomes,” Ron Lawrence, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said in a statement.

The agencies said that police departments currently set their own use-of-force policies, and officers don’t always receive the training they need. They said the new training will be the most stringent in the nation designed to minimize the use of force.