Capitol Beat – PORAC’s Priorities

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

By the time you read this, the Legislature will likely be in summer recess. When they return on August 6, there will only be four weeks left of the 2017–2018 legislative session. PORAC, along with Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), will be busy over the next several weeks working to support, oppose or amend legislation. (See the complete list of PORAC’s active support, active oppose and sponsored bills in the bill chart on the next page.) As mentioned in our previous article, law enforcement is primarily on the defensive this legislative session, opposing critical bills that would negatively impact our officers. Here is a list of some of the current issues that we are opposing:

AB 284 (McCarty, D-Sacramento): This bill inserts the California Department of Justice (DOJ) into the process of studying peace officer–involved shootings (OIS) resulting in a serious injury or death. AB 284 requires the attorney general to do a two-year study of past officer-involved shootings resulting in serious injury or death to determine whether there is a need for change in shooting policy and to make recommendations. The study would look at shootings from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2016. PORAC played an active role in opposing this bill from the beginning. One of our arguments was that we didn’t believe legislation was needed for this issue. Under current law, the attorney general can already go in on an investigation. For this reason, Assembly Member McCarty made the decision to turn his bill into a budget augmentation of $10 million. We met with the Senate budget staff to continue our efforts to stop the request from being funded. We were recently informed that the Senate denied the McCarty budget proposal. As of right now, the funding for the DOJ OIS Investigation program is dead.

AB 748 (Ting, D-San Francisco): This bill requires the release of body-camera footage within 120 days, regardless of whether there is still an active, ongoing investigation, disallowing the use of redaction technology to obscure specific portions of the recording for law enforcement purposes and prohibiting the use of biometric technology on the video. At the time this article was written, we had just been handed amendments to AB 748 that purport to align with LAPD’s new video release policies. The amendments attempt to remove the negative impact this bill could have on ongoing investigations by allowing for extensions. PORAC’s lawyers are analyzing the amendments, and we will follow up when we have more information. AB 748 is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AB 931 (Weber, D-San Diego): This bill would limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer to situations where it is “necessary” to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to a third party. It would prohibit the use of deadly force by a peace officer in a situation where an individual poses a risk only to themselves. AB 931 would also limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer against a person fleeing from arrest or imprisonment to only those situations in which the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving serious bodily injury or death, and there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to another person if the subject is not immediately apprehended. Amendments are being proposed; however, as of this writing, they are not yet in print. PORAC’s leaders and panel attorneys, along with ARA, have been in many meetings over the last couple of months to develop a strategy on how best to defeat this bill. AB 931, in its current form, is detrimental to law enforcement and puts officers and the public at risk. This is our number one issue this year, and every effort is being put forth to keep the bill from moving forward. We will keep you informed as the situation progresses.

SB 1421 (Skinner, D-Berkeley): This bill permits inspection of specified peace officer and custodial officer records pursuant to the California Public Records Act (CPRA). SB 1421 provides that records related to reports, investigations or findings may be subject to disclosure if they involve the following: incidents involving the discharge of a firearm or electronic control weapons by an officer, incidents involving strikes of impact weapons or projectiles to the head or neck area, incidents of deadly force or serious bodily injury by an officer, incidents of sustained sexual assault by an officer or incidents relating to sustained findings of dishonesty by a peace officer. PORAC has met with Senator Skinner, her staff and the bill’s sponsors on many occasions and are working with her office on potential amendments. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, PORAC remains opposed.

Primary Election

As you know, the June 5 primary election is behind us. Incumbent legislators in both houses who were up for re-election advanced to the general election, which will be held on November 6.