California has implemented new laws to improve the policing in the state. These new laws will help better the state’s policing system to avoid injustice and wrongful killings of persons by law police officers.
AB-1196 (Peace officers: use of force) improves the existing laws concerning the method that a peace officer can use to restrain a person during an arrest. The law permits police officers to use reasonable force to apprehend a person, especially when they are met with resistance or attempt to escape by the person. However, using such force must be in accordance with previous training officers receive to navigate such situations. The use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer is illegal under existing laws.
The new law illegalizes the use of two techniques to restrain a person during an arrest. The techniques illegalized by this law include the carotid restraint and the chokehold. Carotid restraint is the compression of a person’s neck, restricting the blood flow in the carotid arteries making the person unconscious. A chokehold involves putting direct pressure on a person’s neck. This can restrict their breathing.
Both techniques can result in fatal incidents if not managed properly. An instance and the biggest push for this law is the George Floyd incident which resulted in protests against the use of excessive force and other forms of brutality by police officers. Some California cities that have banned the use of chokehold and carotid restraint before the state-wide ban includes:
- San Francisco
- San Diego
- San Jose
- Los Angeles
- Long Beach
- Santa Ana
The new law is implemented state-wide for the first time.
Another law will see the Office of Attorney General investigating incidents that involve a law enforcement officer killing an unarmed person. Existing laws allow the local law enforcement agency to investigate such incidents, but there have been reservations about the bias in this process.
There have been queries by activists about the existing process of law enforcement agencies investigating its officers involved in the killing of unarmed persons. The new law is expected to provide impartial investigations of such incidents, and officers found guilty will be penalized.
The California legislature may also see more bills that seek to pass laws to improve the policing in the state. Examples include a bill to disclose police records and make them available to the general public for transparency. Another bill recommends that police officers guilty of severe misconduct should have their badges taken from them.