Legislative Update 2019-05-05

This update was given by Chief Cantrell at the CCUPCA Spring Conference.

On April 24, a major bill sponsored by CCUPCA was approved by the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization.  Assembly Bill 1499 is landmark legislation in addressing the immediate response to school active shooter incidents. With support from CCUPCA, it was approved by the Committee and moves forward in the Legislative Process.

The tragic reality is that active shooter incidents disproportionately take place on campuses. California, Texas and Florida have the dubious distinction of being the top three states in the country with the most incidents of this kind. Because of this CCUPCA has been actively engaged in nearly all Legislative issues involving active shooter incidents since the time CCUPCA has had a legislative presence.

The Tragic Reality

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission report to the Governor of Florida stated the need for school districts and first responders to strive for inter-linking communication services known as interoperability. It was this lack of inter-operability that exponentially magnified the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as first responders did not receive real time communication from the school site. In fact, the shooter had already left the campus by the time first responders were able to arrive.

Inter-operability technology, which is now in place on some school campuses around the country, enables school staff, when an incident occurs, to press a soft panic button on their cellular phone which instantly gives all local first responders immediate video and audio access to the active shooter incident at the campus. AB 1499 will allow first responders to have real-time immediate life-saving intelligence as they are responding to any emergency incident, enhancing their ability to quickly control the matter and either prevent or minimize causalities.

Assembly Bill 1499 creates a grant program in the Office of Emergency Service to make emergency inter-operability system funding available to K-12 public schools, community colleges, and CSU Campuses.

According to the Public Safety Communication Act of 2002, the Public Safety Radio Strategic Planning Committee has primary responsibility to develop and implement statewide integrated public safety communication systems that facilitate inter-operability among state public safety departments and first response agencies. However, efforts have not been made to expand interoperability services to include California educational systems.

What AB 1499 Means for Education in California

The AB 1499 established grant programs will provide assistance in purchasing, retrofitting, and maintaining interoperability systems in schools. This is all in an effort to increase first-responder communication with law enforcement agencies. Grant funding requirements will also be established by the Office of Emergency Services.

Additionally, AB 1499 ensures privacy and technological compliance with the Department of Homeland Security and will operate in accordance to state and federal privacy protections.  At the request of CCUPCA the bill was amended to include the University of California systems, as well.

Moving Forward

The bill was heard by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee on April 24.  The Committee is charged with all matters relating to the Office of Emergency Services.  At the hearing CCUPCA lobbyist, John Lovell, identified CCUPCA as the sponsor of the bill and provided the background of the importance of interoperability in addressing active shooter incidents.  Experts on interoperability as well as representatives from other law enforcement organizations also testified.  After the Committee discussion of the bill, it was approved by a 19-0 vote.  During that discussion, several Legislators (in both parties) praised CCUPCA’s leadership in developing this important initiative.

The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and then to the Assembly floor.  CCUPCA has been invited to meet with members of the Governor’s staff in connection with our leadership on this bill.