California would lead the U.S. in significantly changing the standard for when police can fire their weapons under legislation that cleared its first hurdle Tuesday after an emotionally charged debate over deadly shootings that have roiled the country, reports the Associated Press.
It's time to change a "reasonable force" standard that hasn't been updated in California since 1872, making it the nation's oldest unchanged use-of-force law, said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat who introduced the measure. "It must be guided by the goals of safeguarding human life," she said.
A state Senate committee advanced the legislation that would allow police to use deadly force only in situations where it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious injury or death to the officer or another person.
Law enforcement lobbyists said the stricter standard could make officers hesitant to approach suspects out of fear their actions could be second-guessed.
Democrats on the committee acknowledged that officers have difficult and dangerous jobs but argued the bill would make everyone safer by promoting de-escalation and fostering trust between police and people of color.