Legislative Update 2019-03-18

CCUPCA collectively protects over three million people in the jurisdictions we are sworn to serve in California.  We address the same crime challenges as municipal police and county sheriff agencies.  However unfortunate, there are some crimes that take place disproportionately within our jurisdictions.

One of those crimes is active shooter incidents on our campuses.  In 2016, national findings concluded an active shooter incident takes place on a higher-ed campus once every eight days.  Even scarier, 2018 national findings concluded active shooter incident takes place on a K-12 campus once every five days!

Despite best efforts, the evidence still points to the unhappy reality of active shooter incidents on campuses.  In a review of active shooter incidents across the nation two critical factors were highlighted:

  1. A clear failure of radio communication between schools and law enforcement.
  2. The need for live video streams shared with first responders.

These priorities point to a clear need for multimedia interoperability to be installed and maintained on California school sites.

It is for this reason that CCUPCA is in strong support of Assembly Bill 1499.

Assembly Bill 1499 and What it Means

Assembly Bill 1499 will enable school and post-secondary institutions to obtain critically important interoperability technology to improve response to active shooter incidents.

As this bill is now being amended it will provide as follows:

Subject to appropriation by the State Legislature, a grant shall be established and operated by the State Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to provide for assistance in obtaining, retrofitting, purchasing and maintaining interoperability systems in K-12 schools, Community College campuses and California State University Campuses.  The grant funding shall also be made available to local law enforcement agencies and local fire agencies to coordinate their systems of communications utilized for first responder activities to be compatible and coordinated with emergency technology systems installed and operating on school and university campuses.

The specific privacy and technological requirements of the interoperability systems qualified for the grant subsidy shall be developed in this measure through discussion of best practices and conformance with applicable state and federal privacy protections for students.  Applicants would also be required to meet specified requirements for eligibility for State funds to aid in installation and operation of interoperability systems for school safety.

Grants and subsidies to local agencies shall be evaluated by Cal OES and determined pursuant to a risk assessment or standard application to OES for State assistance by the school campus, district, community college or University. 

This technology is already available and in use at various locations across the country. It is an affordable solution which would enable staff and faculty with the ability to initiate an immediate, coordinated response from law enforcement simply by activating a panic button app on their cell phone.

The way it works: If the “active shooter” button is pressed on a smart phone panic button,

  • A 9-1-1 call is placed
  • Simultaneously, law enforcement and schools are connected via an online collaboration session sharing radio and video
  • Faculty and staff get a notification alert and can go immediately into their SOP
  • The school surveillance video feed is activated for LIVE streaming to law enforcement dispatch

Thus, response time to an incident is reduced significantly and those in danger know help is on the way. Plus, law enforcement officers can enter a situation with more information and can act decisively, reducing overall time to incident resolution.

Assembly Bill 1499 will enable school and post-secondary institutions to obtain critically important inter-operability technology to improve response to active shooter incidents.

Legislative Update 2019-02-11

Bill introductions are coming along with greater frequency. Stand-outs include two bills which cast into bold relief the issue of officer use of force.

For decades, the standard as to whether an officer may use force in carrying out their professional obligations has been the Reasonableness Standard.  This standard has been extensively litigated, and officers are able to rely on the guidance of that standard.

Last Year: Disaster Averted

Last year, Assembly Member Shirley Weber introduced Assembly Bill 931 (AB 931) which would have changed the rules surrounding the use of force in certain confrontations.  AB 931 was introduced as a “gut and amend” bill.  This means it would gut the existing bill on use of force, leaving room for the legislature to amended into an entirely new bill.

It should be noted that Assembly Member Weber introduced AB 931 with no consultation with anyone in law enforcement.

It was to replace the Reasonableness Standard with something called a “Necessary Standard.”  In other words, if the use of force could be shown as not “necessary,” the use of force would be deemed not authorized by law.

Unlike the Reasonableness Standard, the Necessary Standard was vague and largely untested.  Because of the ambiguity of Necessary Standard, officers’ split-second decisions on use of force would be subject to 20-20 hindsight. This could then unreasonably increase an officer’s potential exposure to a felony on the basis of negligence. To those in law enforcement, it was clear: Necessary Standard would make instances of use of force more confusing. While intended to reform use of force for the better, AB 931 lacked considerable sensitivity toward those in the field.

The law enforcement community successfully battled against AB 931 and the bill was killed in the Senate Rules Committee. Supporters of law enforcement agreed AB 931 would have had an undeniably negative impact on officers in the field. That is to say, it would have put increased pressure on officers’ day-to-day duties, as they would have to constantly consider how their actions could be seen in hindsight.

The Ghost Bills of AB 931

Everyone knew, of course, that some form of AB 931 would be back again this year.

That reality came to fruition when aforementioned Assembly Member Weber and Assembly Member McCarty, joined by four co-authors, introduced Assembly Bill 392. This bill would redefine the circumstances under which a fatal shooting by an officer is deemed justifiable to include when the killing is:

  1. in self-defense or the defense of another, consistent with the existing legal standard for self-defense, or
  2. when the killing is necessary to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon whose immediate apprehension is necessary to prevent death or serious injury.

AB 392 would additionally bar the use of the necessary mortal self-defense if the officer were deemed to have acted in a criminally negligent manner.  This would include if an officer’s actions created the necessity for the use of deadly force.

Everything in Moderation

Unlike last year, however, there is a second bill that has been introduced in this subject matter area.  Senator Anna Caballero, along with seventeen co-authors, has introduced Senate Assembly Bill 230.

AB 230 would require each law enforcement agency to maintain a policy that provides guidelines on

  • the use of force,
  • utilizing de-escalation techniques and other alternatives to force
  • the application of deadly force, and
  • factors for evaluating and reviewing all use of force incidents.

AB 230 would also require each agency to make their use of force policy accessible to the public.

Under existing law, use of deadly force resulting in homicide is justified if it was necessarily committed in:

  • overcoming actual resistance to an arrest,
  • apprehending a felon who had escaped from custody,
  • arresting a person charged with a felony who was fleeing from justice or resisting arrest.

Existing case law prohibits the use of deadly force by an officer unless there is a reasonable fear of death or serious physical harm to the officer or another.

AB 230 will also require the commission to implement a course(s) on use of force for training law enforcement officers. In addition, the commission will have to develop uniform, minimum guidelines surrounding the use of force. The bill would encourage law enforcement agencies to adopt and publish for the public, a use of force policy.

In Sum…

The law enforcement community has united behind AB 230, while the ACLU and their allies have organized support for AB 392. 

As mentioned previously, these bills must remain in print for thirty days before policy committees can hear or amend them. 

Legislative Report 2019-02-04

All proposals intended for introduction in the 2019 Session have been submitted to the attorneys in the office of Legislative Counsel. This is the precursor to the actual introduction of that proposal into bill form.

A large percentage of these submissions are in the form of “spot bills.”

Spot Bills are non-substantive pieces of legislation, which can be amended after remaining in print for 30 days.  Once a bill is in print for 30 days it is available for public consumption. Only then can it be altered or brought for a hearing in front of the appropriate policy committee.

Thus far, approximately 500 bills are in print, have been introduced and put into print since the new Session began.  By the time they are finished, we can expect nearly 3,500 bills to be put into play. The vast majority of these will be introduced in the days prior to the deadline, which is Friday, February 22nd.

From now until the deadline, John Lovell, CCUPCA’s Legal Counsel, will review introductions and amendments. The goal will be to ascertain which measures’ content and subject matter affect our institutions, directly and indirectly. He will sort the bills into a report with recommendations.  The CCUPCA weekly report will contain information about the high-profile bills of interest, including known sponsors, intent, and/or useful background on the bill.

These reports will serve as a guide to discussing potential positions on individual bills. While many of the bills in the report will be informational, high-priority bills will require active lobbying and advocacy to guide the bill where CCUPCA wants it to go. The reports will offer recommendations on which bills require supporting, opposing or amending.

The Legislature gets the Committee process running by late-March or early-April.  Since most bills will be introduced around the 2/22 deadline plus the requisite 30-day wait, the Committees typically wait for a critical mass to become eligible for hearing prior to launch.

Legislative Report 2019-01-28

This past week has been relatively quiet on the Legislative front, with only a few bills directly impacting public safety.

Two such bills from this past week include Senate Bill 136 and Senate Bill 161.

Senate Bill 136, by Senator Wiener, will abolish the one year enhancement for prior felony convictions when a defendant is convicted of a felony in the current proceeding.

Senate Bill 161, by Senator Bates, will make trafficking fentanyl subject to California’s quantity enhancement law.

Most other public safety bills introduced thus far are so-called “spot” bills which enunciate intent to enact legislation in a particular subject matter area but lack specific detail.  For example, Senate Bill 120 by Senator Stern states the ambiguous intent of the Legislature to enact Legislation to ensure public safety.

Also this past week Governor Newsom used his authority to overturn the grant of parole for Jesus Cecena.  CCUPCA was part of a law enforcement coalition that asked the Governor to use his Constitutional authority to overturn the parole grant. Back in fall 2018, the Board of Parole Hearings had voted to grant Jesus Cecena parole. Cecena was convicted of the brutal murder of San Diego Police Officer Archie Buggs in 1978.

In the past, CCUPCA had gone to Governor Brown and was successful in persuading the then Governor to overturn similar parole grants for Cecena.  We are pleased that our latest request to the newly minted Governor Newsom was also successful.

With the deadline for bill introductions on February 22, legislative activity is expected to pick up in the coming weeks.

Legislative Update 2019-01-14

The highlight of last week was the newly sworn in Governor Newsom’s presentation of the Governor’s 2019-2020 Budget.  This is the first budget proposal that emanates from Governor Newsom.  Although most of the media attention focused on his education, youth services and health care proposals, the budget did contain some public safety related matters:

  1. Realignment – The budget proposal updates revenue assumptions for 2011 Realignment programs created by the passage of AB 109 in 2011, with growth funding including at $ 30 million increase, which will be revisited and revised in the Governor’s May revision.
  2. Incompetent to Stand Trial Issues – The increasing number of Incompetent to Stand Trial Commitments has placed a corresponding burden on the Department of State Hospitals. The budget includes funding to expand beds at their facilities and also includes an additional $ 12.3 million to allow for contracting for up to 74 county jail-based competency restoration treatment beds through the county jail treatment programs.
  3. Post Release Community Supervision – The budget includes $ 11.8 million for county probation departments to supervise the temporary increase in the average daily population of offenders on Post Release Community Supervision as a result of implementation of Proposition 57.
  4. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – the Governor’s budget funds $ 12.6 billion for CDCR, prioritizes inmate literacy and reentry, invests in aging infrastructure and inmate mental health and medical care, and also proposes moving the Division of Juvenile Justice from CDCR to a dew department under the Health and Human Services Agency.
  5. DOJ Forensic Services – The budget includes $ 25 million in order tor DOJ to continue processing forensic evidence for counties.
  6. Human Trafficking – The budget includes $ 10 million ongoing General Fund for the Office of Emergency Services to continue funding for the Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program. The program assists trafficking victims in recovering from the trauma they have experienced through comprehensive safety and supportive services, including a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter, temporary housing, emergency food and clothing, counseling, transportation and referrals to local resources.  There are currently 21 projects providing these services.

The Budget will now be broken into its subject matter parts and assigned to the various budget sub-committees in each house where it will be examined and modified on the Legislative side.

Only about three hundred bills have been introduced at this point, with no major public safety bills currently in print.