California’s competing ‘use of force’ bills trigger emotional responses

California

Thursday marked another day of demonstrations in Sacramento in the name of Stephon Clark.

“At the end of the day, my brother is gone,” says Stevenate Clark, Stephon’s brother. “To prevent anything like this from happening to anybody else’s family, that’s the best we can do.”

Assembly Bill 392’s main author, Assemblymember Shirley Weber, says police know how to use restraint. She pointed to the arrest of the man accused of the Parkland High School mass shooting last in 2018.

“Anytime someone can kill 17 people in Florida, which says they are a dangerous individual who not only has the means but the desire to take life, and they can be apprehended without any incident, speaks to the fact that our officers do know how to take individuals into control without having to take their lives,” Weber says.

Members of the group rallying Thursday also urged the senator who authored the competing legislation to drop the bill, calling it an emotional response.

Damon Kurtz is a police officer and the vice president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, a group that helped develop the other use of lethal force legislation, SB 230.

Their bill calls for police to have more mental health training and response teams, which he says is more effective than what AB 392 proposes.

“What are the circumstances leading up to use of force? Many times its mental health, substance abuse, many times more than not that’s the case. So that’s what Senate Bill 230  for mental health services (is), to give law enforcement the tools to help us be more effective and hopefully to avoid use of force situations all together,” Kurtz says.

Neither the governor nor the attorney general have taken a stance on either bill but both are calling for change.

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