Police Use of Deadly Force: From ‘Reasonable’ to ‘Necessary’?

“SAN FRANCISCO – A showdown over when police can use deadly force is set to unfold in the California Legislature next week, which could result in sweeping changes to law enforcement departments that give officers broad latitude in deciding when to shoot to kill.

“At issue is Assembly Bill 392, known as the California Act to Save Lives, which would put the onus on officers to justify discharging their weapon, shifting the standard from ‘reasonable” – as defined by the Supreme Court’s Graham v Connor ruling in 1989 – to ‘necessary.’ That means that, under the proposed bill, police must feel confident it is necessary to shoot to protect themselves or others from danger, or they could be prosecuted for killing a person. 

“Instead of reaching for their guns, officers would be pressed to engage in de-escalation tactics that aim to reduce tension between officer and suspect. Experts said these include listening to the suspect’s story, explaining the actions an officer is about to take and ensuring that the suspect’s dignity is preserved throughout the interaction.

“California has the highest percentage of police shootings per 100,000 people among states with more than 8 million residents, said Seth Stoughton, a former police officer who is a law professor at the University of South Carolina and an expert on deadly force rules.

‘The states are all over the map in the way they regulate deadly force, with some being very permissive, and that’s where California is right now,’ said Stoughton, noting that the Western state shares that reputation with Georgia, Texas and Florida. Among large states, New York has the fewest officer-related shooting deaths.

“’This new bill would make the preservation of life law enforcement’s top priority in California,’ said Stoughton, who wrote letters to California lawmakers in support of the bill. ‘Having the state Legislature tell police officers, ‘This is the job we expect you to do’ is an important piece of symbolism’…”

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Read the full article from USA Today HERE and why some people don’t think it’s a good idea. [Ed. Note: Frankly, I think it is and agree with Prof. Stoughton.]

Some recent (May 23, 2019 developments in California as police union heads and legislators try to come to some agreement: https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-police-use-of-force-bill-392-20190523-story.html?outputType=amp