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News / In Detail

Forbid Police From Using "Less Than Lethal" Rounds or Tear Gas to Disperse Crowds Except In Sac'to Specified Circumstances? Bill Co-Authored By LB State Senator Gonzalez Proposes This And It's Coming To Sac'to Committee Vote In Days



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(August 1, 2020, 8:15 p.m.) -- Should state lawmakers forbid police agencies statewide from using "less than lethal" rounds or tear gas to disperse any assembly, protest, demonstration, or other gathering of people. except under Sacramento specified circumstances?

That's the key portion of AB 66 (which began as a bill to exempt diapers from state tax but under Sacramento's "gut and amend" procedure (new text inserted in an unrelated bill to bypass normally required policy hearings) now propose to do the following:

...Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (d), kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents shall not be used by any law enforcement agency to disperse any assembly, protest, demonstration, or other gathering of people.

(b) Chloroacetophenone tear gas, commonly known as CN tear gas, or 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile gas, commonly known as CS gas, shall not be used by any law enforcement agency.

(d) Kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents shall only be deployed to disperse an assembly, protest, demonstration, or other gathering of people in accordance with all of the following requirements:

(1) The use is objectively reasonable to defend against injury to any individual, including any peace officer.

(2) Deescalation techniques or other alternatives to force have been attempted, when objectively reasonable, and have failed.

(3) If objectively reasonable to do so, repeated audible announcements are made announcing the intent to use kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents.

(4) Persons are given an objectively reasonable opportunity to disperse and leave the scene.

(5) An objectively reasonable effort has been made to identify persons engaged in violent acts and those who are not, and kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents are targeted toward those individuals engaged in violent acts. Projectiles shall not be aimed indiscriminately into a crowd or group of persons.

(6) The increased risk of hitting an unintended target due to unexpected movement of members of the crowd is considered.

(7) An objectively reasonable effort has been made to extract individuals in distress.

(8) Kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents are used only with the frequency, intensity, and in a manner that is proportional to the threat and objectively reasonable.

(9) Medical assistance is promptly procured or provided for injured persons.

(10) Peace officers who deploy these weapons have received training on their proper use that is approved by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

(11) Projectiles are aimed at or below a personsís navel area and shall not be aimed at the head or neck, or at any person who is running away.

(e) Kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents shall not be used by any law enforcement agency solely due to a violation of an imposed curfew, verbal threat, or noncompliance with a law enforcement directive.

(f) If a federal law enforcement agency is operating in the jurisdiction of any city, that city shall request that federal law enforcement agency refrain from the use of kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents to disperse any assembly, protest, demonstration, or other gathering of people, unless that use is consistent with subdivision (d).

(g) Nothing in this section prevents a law enforcement agency from adopting more stringent policies.

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AB 66 continues multiple other provisions. To see its text in full, >click here.

Long Beach was at ground zero for these issues. A peaceful marching crowd morphed into uncontrolled and unabated looting, and in covering the story in downtown Long Beach KPCC reporter Adolfo Guzman Lope was struck/wounded by an LBPD-fired "less than lethal" round. The latter event was reported on LAist >here and LBPD subsequently released a video report to the community on the incident (below.)

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AB 66 as now amended is co-authored by state Senator Lena Gonzalez (D, LB-SE L.A. County) along withy Senators Maria Elena Durazo (D, Los Angeles) and Scott Wiener (D, SF). Its Assembly co-authors include Lorena Gonzalez, Gipson, Arambula, Boerner, Horvath, Choi, Chu, Diep, Eduardo Garcia, Lackey, Mathis, McCarty, Patterson, Robert Rivas, Rodriguez, Blanca Rubio, and Voepel.

On August 7, AB 66 is tentatively expected to receive its first (and to date only) policy hearing in the state Senate's Public Safety Committee The Committee is chaired by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D, Berkeley); its Vice Chair is Senator John Moorlach (R, Irvine). Other Committee members (majority are Democrats) are Senators Steven Bradford, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Holly J. Mitchell, Mike Morrell and Scott Wiener.

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If the state Senate Pubic Safety Committee approves AB 66, it will likely move to the state Senate Appropriations Committee and, if Democrat legislative leadership approves, will advance to the state Senate for a floor vote. Because AB 66 is a "gut and amend measure," it's already technically "passed" the Assembly, but may or may not receive an Assembly policy committee hearing before coming to the full Assembly for concurrence in the state Senate text.

To date, the City of LB has taken no position AB 66. LB's Mayor and nearly all Council incumbents have been endorsed by the LB Police Officers Ass'n PAC (including incumbents Austin and Andrews and candidate Allen) in the November 2020 cycle.

After what you observed in Long Beach on May 31-June 1, should your Councilmember vote to put the City of LB on record as supporting AB 66, or oppose it unless amended, or oppose it outright...or take no position?

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