California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced an array of reform proposals Monday intended to reduce policing bias, modify use-of-force practices and increase accountability and transparency among local law enforcement agencies.
Becerra urged law enforcement agencies across the state to take reformative steps like banning the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints, requiring de-escalation before using force, and mandating comprehensive reporting of use-of-force incidents. Many of the measures have already been adopted or are underway in cities including San Francisco.
Becerra also said the state Department of Justice would support state legislation to place clear limits on crowd control techniques, ban the use of pepper spray against children, decertify law enforcement officers who engage in serious misconduct, and expand the state’s capacity to review law enforcement policies and practices.
“Communities across the country have courageously spoken up to demand change,” Becerra said. “We cannot afford to ignore the realities faced by black Americans and people of color in this nation.”
While the state Department of Justice does not have the authority to mandate such policy and procedure changes for law enforcement agencies across the state, Becerra said some of his proposals have already been adopted via the state Legislature.
Those include Senate Bill 230, which would require law enforcement agencies to adopt concrete use-of-force policies and undergo regular periodic training, and Assembly Billy 392, which limits when officers can use deadly force. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed both bills into state law last year.
Many of Becerra’s proposals came from the state Department of Justice’s collaborative police reform efforts with the cities of Sacramento and Vallejo, the latter of which is still ongoing.
Becerra also said that the state is open to a discussion about ending qualified immunity for law enforcement, which makes it harder to remove and convict officers who commit serious misconduct.
“This should be a totally open conversation where all ideas should be put forward,” Becerra said. “We’ve put forward a number that we’ve explored and we’re open to discussing that and any other idea that you didn’t see on our list.”
Outside of the reform proposals, Becerra said investigators from the Department of Justice are being sent to the city of Palmdale to assist in the investigation of Robert Fuller’s death. Fuller, a 24-year-old black man, was found hanged from a tree near Palmdale City Hall last week.
Investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have said Fuller’s death appears to be a suicide, but results of a full autopsy have yet to be released.
Becerra said the sheriff’s department reached out to state investigators seeking to collaborate on the case.
“So far we’ve had good conversations with the (Los Angeles) County Sheriff’s Department and with local leaders there,” Becerra said. “So we look forward to getting our investigators there quickly and starting up in our work.”