Capitol Beat – PORAC’s Priorities

Aaron Read and Randy Perry
Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

2018 is the second half of the two-year legislative session, and it is turning out to be quite challenging. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other social justice organizations are sponsoring bills that range from bringing the attorney general into officer-involved shootings and the mandatory release of body-camera footage to the release of investigatory files and the severe restriction of the use of deadly force by officers.

In addition to these bills dramatically impacting the law enforcement profession, PORAC is working diligently to push legislation positively impacting the Peace Officers Bill of Rights (POBR) and the workers’ compensation system, as well as legislation to provide protections in California’s newly created Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) regulations.

Actively Opposed Bills

AB 284, Reporting of Officer-Involved Shootings, by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento): This bill inserts the California Department of Justice (DOJ) into the process of studying peace officer–involved shootings resulting in death or serious injury. This bill also requires the AG to do a study of past actions to determine whether there is a need for change. AB 284 has been stalled; however, it is not dead. We will update you as information becomes available.

AB 748, Disclosure of Video and Audio Recordings: Peace Officers, by Assembly Member Philip Ting (D-San Francisco): AB 748 requires the release of body-camera footage within 120 days, regardless of whether there is still an active, ongoing investigation. It disallows the use of redaction technology to obscure specific portions of the recording for law enforcement purposes and prohibits the use of biometric technology on the video. PORAC, along with the other law enforcement organizations, will continue to fight this measure. As of this writing, AB 748 is sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee; however, the issue is still very much alive. The sponsors, the ACLU and the Newspaper Publishers Association, are adamant about receiving this information and demand the video as soon as they can get it.

AB 931, “Police Accountability and Community Protection Act,” by Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego): The intent of this bill is to authorize police officers to use deadly force only when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death. This bill abandons the “reasonableness” standard adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor.

AB 3131, Law Enforcement Agencies: Military Equipment — Funding and Acquisition, by Assembly Member Todd Gloria (D-San Diego): This bill would require law enforcement agencies to obtain approval of the applicable governing body, by adoption of a military equipment impact statement and a military equipment use policy, as specified, by ordinance at a regular meeting held pursuant to specified open meeting laws, prior to taking certain actions relating to the funding, acquisition or use of military equipment.

SB 1421, Criminal Procedure and Sentencing, by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley): SB 1421 states that an officer’s investigatory files will become public after the entire appeal process has been completed and if the officer’s complaint is sustained. The bill deals with the more serious types of complaints, such as discharge of a firearm, discharge of a Taser, blow to the head or neck, serious use of force resulting in death or serious injury, sexual assault, dishonesty, etc.

Actively Supported Bills

AB 2577, Personal Income Taxes: Deductions — Labor Organization Dues, by Assembly Member Adam Gray (D-Merced): For each taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2018, and before January 1, 2023, this bill would allow, as a deduction from gross income, an amount equal to the amount paid or incurred for member dues paid by a taxpayer during the taxable year to specified labor organizations.

AB 2823, Violent Felonies, by Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood): This bill would define human sex trafficking as a violent felony and expand the scope of violent felonies in cases of sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration and rape offenses, including if the victim was unconscious, incapable of giving consent due to intoxication or because of a mental disorder, physical disability and more.

Sponsored Bills

AB 1749, Workers’ Compensation: Off-Duty Peace Officer, by Assembly Member Tom Daly (D-Anaheim): Unlike most professions, law enforcement is uniquely trained in how to react to attacks on the public. Co-sponsored by PORAC, AB 1749 would ensure that California’s workers’ compensation system covers peace officers who acted outside of state boundaries and were injured, regardless of their injuries.

AB 3091, RIPA Legislation, by Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego): AB 3091 will clarify the intent of AB 953 by Assembly Member Weber that individual officers not be identified through the data provided for the RIPA report. This bill simply states that the “unique identifying number shall not be subject to the California Public Records Act.”

SB 1086, Workers’ Compensation: Firefighters and Peace Officers, by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego): Co-sponsored by PORAC, this bill extends in perpetuity the window of time during which the family of a public safety officer whose death is attributable to specified work-related illnesses is eligible to collect survivor death benefits. By permanently extending the survivor death benefit eligibility from 240 weeks to 420 weeks, it will ensure that these officers’ grieving families are not deprived of the benefits they deserve due to an arbitrary and unfair timeline.