Senator Scott Weiner
State Capitol, Room 5100
Sacramento, CA 95814-4900
Re: Use of Force by Peace Officers –AB 931
Dear Senator Weiner:
Incidents in our state during the first half of 2018 involving the use of force by law enforcement officers have fueled strong emotions in our communities. Often time’s emotions lead to hastily promised solutions through legislation. This may be the case with Assembly Bill 931. This bill, in its current form, might very well have negative consequences on public safety that have not been foreseen.
In 1989 the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Graham v. Connor which established the standard for which law enforcement officers use force and how excessive force is defined. The “objectively reasonable” standard has been challenged in the Courts and has withheld the test of time. AB 931 would drastically change that standard where officers who have to make a split second judgement in extremely tense and rapidly changing conditions would now be susceptible to the “Monday morning quarterback” analysis under the” necessary” standard.
Almost all of law enforcement including Chiefs of Police and District Attorney’s, in the State of California, oppose this legislation. Our Legislators should recognize the importance of preserving the standard set by the United States Supreme Court. The standards set in AB 931 radically alters the definition of justifiable homicide involving public officers, eliminates potential defenses, shifts the burden of proof against the officer, and, most importantly, it adds a new layer of analysis that directly undermines Graham's analysis by introducing the notion of reasonable alternatives.
As a resident of California I hope that you will reconsider this measure and oppose it in its current form.