Assemblymember Chris Holden reintroduced his police reform legislation, AB 26, that establishes clear guidelines for police responsibility and accountability when witnessing excessive force by another member of law enforcement.
“We are calling for responsibility and accountability,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Instituting these core values is paramount to building public trust that has eroded between law enforcement and communities across California.”
California law requires police officers to intercede when present and observing another officer using force that is beyond that which is necessary, but there are no universal measures used to determine that an officer has in fact interceded. In the case of George Floyd, a lawyer for one of the accused junior officers argued that there was intervention because the junior officer asked the supervising officer if they should turn Floyd on his side.
Just as the previous version of the bill, AB 26 provides a selection of techniques to establish that an officer has in fact attempted to intercede. The bill also expands on current law to disqualify a person from being a police officer if they used excessive force that resulted in great bodily injury or death or to have failed to intercede in that incident.
Earlier this fall, Governor Newsom’s Policing Advisors released their recommendations which included legislation to “Require officers to intervene to prevent or stop other officers from engaging in excessive force, false arrest, or other inappropriate conduct.”
If AB 26 becomes law, police officers would be required to intercede when witnessing excessive force under the updated guidelines and report the incident in real time to dispatch or the watch commander. Failure to intercede by a police officer would make them an accessory to any crime committed by an offending officer. The officer’s due process will be protected as the employing agency would review evidence and determine if the offending officer met the standard for intervention. Retaliation against officers that report violations of law or regulation of another officer to a supervisor would be prohibited.
Holden’s previous bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee without reason. AB 26’s first committee hearing will likely be in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
“Given the widespread public outcry for police reforms right now, we have another opportunity for California to lead on this issue,” said Holden.