Newsom signs ‘Stephon Clark Law’ AB 392, covering police use of force

After an emotional fight that laid bare the chasm between California’s communities of color and police, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed Assembly Bill 392, creating what some have described as one of the toughest standards in the nation for when law enforcement officers can kill.

…Language requiring deescalation and a definition of what “necessary” force means were removed, along with passages about potential “criminal negligence” of officers involved in lethal incidents.

…Though the final bill doesn’t go as far as some wanted, supporters say it’s a first step in changing the culture of policing in California.

“The bill is watered down, everybody knows that,” said Stevante Clark, brother of Stephon Clark, who was shot by Sacramento police in March 2018. “But at least we are getting something done. At least we are having the conversation now.”

…[Newsom] acknowledged the bill’s intent to change police culture would be determined by how it’s implemented.

…The new language will require that law enforcement use deadly force only when “necessary,” instead of the current wording of when it is “reasonable.” In large urban law enforcement departments that already train for deescalation and crisis intervention, day-to-day policing will probably not noticeably change.

The law also prohibits police from firing on fleeing felons who don’t pose an immediate danger.

…Nationwide, a recent study found that about 1 in 1,000 black men and boys can expect to die at the hands of law enforcement, and that people of color regardless of gender are killed by police at higher rates than their white counterparts.

…Racial bias in policing is not directly addressed by AB 392, but implicit-bias training will probably be a part of new training standards.

Supporters argue that more emphasis on nonlethal practices will reduce lethal use-of-force incidents overall.

Newsom signs ‘Stephon Clark Law’ AB 392, covering police use of force – Los Angeles Times


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