May 18, 2019
The Honorable Shirley Weber
Member, California State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 3123
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: AB 392 (Weber) — Support
Dear Assemblymember Weber:
I am pleased to report that the Democrats of Greater Riverside voted unanimously to support your bill, AB 392, which will protect community members by allowing law enforcement to use deadly force only when they have no other option for preventing imminent death or serious bodily injury.
California must update its outdated law on deadly use of force. Current law allows police to use deadly force whenever “reasonable”, even if there is no threat to life or bodily security, and even if safe alternatives to deadly force are available. California law even authorizes deadly force that is below the standard of the Constitution. This disturbing level of discretion has had dire consequences: Police in California kill community members at a rate 37 percent higher than the national average, per capita, and several of our state’s police departments have among the highest rates of killings in the country.
In line with recommendations from policing and legal experts, including the California Attorney General, AB 392 updates California law so that police can use deadly force only when necessary to prevent death or serious injury, and requires them to use tactics to de-escalate a situation or use alternatives to deadly force when reasonable. Changing this standard will mean that officers will be trained to use deadly force less often and will be held accountable when they shoot and kill unnecessarily.
The harm from police killings extends beyond the lives lost and impacts all involved. Police shootings cause extraordinary trauma for the families and communities impacted – trauma that disproportionately impacts communities of color. Studies show that police departments with more restrictive use of force policies not only have fewer shootings by police, but also lower rates of assaults against officers and lower crime rates. One of the Legislature’s primary goals is to protect public safety, and safeguarding Californians’ right to be safe from unnecessary deaths by law enforcement is a critical step in that direction. The Democrats of Greater Riverside strongly supports the enactment of AB 392.
Adam Wedeking, Policy & Research Chair
Democrats of Greater Riverside