Capitol Beat – Assembly Bill 931

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

PORAC and the advocates at Aaron Read & Associates (ARA) have lobbied against AB 931 with a diligence that reflects the seriousness of this bill. AB 931 will result in more deaths of officers and the public. If passed, this bill puts everyone at an increased risk of crime. 

 AB 931 limits 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 himself or herself. 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.

At the time of this writing, the Senate had removed AB 931 from the Senate Appropriations Committee and referred it to the Senate Rules Committee. This allowed the Senate more time to consider suggested amendments or other options. This also allowed all parties to “negotiate.” However, PORAC has been very clear that as long as the bill changed the standard from “reasonable” to “necessary,” we have to protect the officer and public. If that was removed, other issues could be considered relating to training and policy changes.

If the Senate or the sponsors of the bill had wished to negotiate on amendments at this point, then those negotiations would have had to occur by the week of August 20. In addition, all amendments needed to be in print and to the Assembly floor by August 28. If no action was taken on the bill, and it remained with the Senate Rules Committee past the 28th, without rule waivers by the full Senate, AB 931 would stay with the committee for the year.

We understand that this report is outdated by the time it reaches your hands, but we hope it provides a glimpse into the legislative process and what PORAC handles on a daily basis. Oftentimes, like this, we are faced with an uncertain future. AB 931 was brought to our attention via rumors in the halls of the Capitol. That same day, a news conference was held by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty and Assembly Member Shirley Weber to introduce the bill’s language. From that moment on, PORAC’s leaders and panel attorneys, along with ARA, held many meetings to develop a strategy on how best to defeat this bill.

Law enforcement across the board agrees that AB 931, in its current form, is detrimental to law enforcement. Our hope is that as you’re reading this, the bill is no longer an issue. However, it’s important to understand that this battle is not going away anytime soon. During the past few years, we have seen legislation asking for transparency in officers’ personnel files, attacks on our pensions and now bills attempting to criminalize our officers for doing their job. PORAC and ARA continue to work hard to fight for you — our members — and provide safety and security for your families. We look forward to continuing this journey with you.