In the Justice System, many agencies and officials are entrusted by the People with power to maintain order and enforce laws in our communities. How this power is used can change a person’s future for better or worse and affect a family, and communities, for generations. If we want people to trust those in power, we need to be clear through our actions that those who hold the public trust will be held to, and trained to, a higher standard. They will be held accountable for any misuse or abuse of their authority.
I support AB392, California Act to Save Lives, from State Assemblymember Shirley Weber. This is a very important and common sense reform that requires that Police Officers use de-escalation as a primary tactic and limits the use of deadly force to when they don’t have any other options.
This is an approach that was modeled in part by 2016 reforms we implemented here with the San Francisco Police Department. As Police Commission President, I led a community process to revise the Use of Force Policy and to build out our Crisis Intervention Team response efforts. All of these efforts explicitly required officers to only use deadly force as a last resort and focused on elevating standards of policing that prioritize safeguarding dignity, rights and lives.
In addition to community input, we sought expert advice from medical and public health professionals, academic experts and social service agencies to ensure that the new training was rigorously informed. We prioritized incorporating best practices of law enforcement agencies around the country. Centering community in this process was critical to achieving reform — and ultimately — saving lives. In subsequent years we have seen a dramatic and sustained decrease in uses of force and a reduction in the occurrence of officer injury in San Francisco.
Public trust is harmed whenever there is a disproportionate use of force. This becomes glaringly obvious when officer involved shootings result in fatal outcomes. A life is lost, a family grieves, an officer serves knowing that their actions resulted in a loss of life, and a community is divided. Trust with law enforcement erodes and the trauma of this violence impacts everyone involved.
Safety must be something experienced by everyone and when an officer involved shooting occurs, everyone feels less safe. AB392 is a vital revision of legal standards for acceptable uses of force by police officers that will have an immediate positive impact on all communities throughout California.
That is why I am urging you to support AB392. There will be a hearing on AB392 on the morning of Tuesday, April 9th at the Public Safety Committee of the State Assembly. You have an opportunity to help advance this reform: take a moment today to contact the members below and advocate for AB392 to be advanced to the full California Assembly for swift approval.
▪ Assemblymember Bill Quirk: 916–319–2020