In an email to its members, the California Peace Officers Association said that AB 931 — a controversial piece of legislation that would change California’s legal standard for judging police officers' use of force in the Golden State from "reasonable" to "necessary" — has been "halted in its tracks."
The bill — which was authored by Assembly member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Assembly member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) — was referred by the Senate back to Senate Rules Committee on Thursday.
AB 931 would conflict with existing case law — specifically, that which is established in Graham v. Connor — regarding the standard by which police use-of-force cases would be evaluated in the courts.
Critics of the bill say that it could potentially create a litigious landslide against police involved in violent confrontations with subjects officers perceive to threaten death or great bodily harm to themselves or innocent civilians.
The California Police Chiefs Association said in a statement that this was an unusual move by the State Senate, saying that "the bill in its current form still needs work in order to gain enough support to pass the full Senate."
In the normal legislative process, the CPCA said, bills are introduced and then referred to a specific policy committee by the Rules Committee.
"After this initial referral, bills get heard by policy and fiscal committees. The move today, to send AB 931 from a fiscal committee back to Rules Committee, is uncommon and signals that the Legislature wants to continue discussing the issue but is unwilling to move the bill forward in its current form" CPCA said.
The California Police Officers Association — which has more than 16,000 members of all ranks from municipal, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the state — said in its email to members, "We are going to continue to talk about this issue that’s so important to our communities with all interested stakeholders. Legislative efforts like AB 931 put Officers [sic] in harm’s way and is just bad legislation. Our industry continues to focus on less-lethal force options that include de-escalation and Crisis Intervention trainings."
CPOA said further that "while there is a chance that the bill could be sent to the Senate floor after negotiations on both sides, today’s action shows how polarizing this bill truly is."
The deadline for all bills to pass the California Legislature is August 31st and Governor Jerry Brown must take action on them by September 30th.