California Senate OKs rule on police use-of-force training

The California Senate approved legislation Tuesday requiring officers across the nation's most populous state to be trained in ways to avoid using deadly force, one of two measures intended to deter shootings by police.

Senators unanimously passed the proposal requiring that policies on deadly force be standardized statewide, sending it to the Assembly. It also requires officers to learn ways to de-escalate confrontations, alternatives to shooting suspects and how to interact with those with mental illness or addictions.

The bill "makes fundamental changes to how law enforcement officers are trained, and this will enable the culture shift away from using force to get compliance," said Democratic Sen. Anna Caballero of Salinas, who is sponsoring the legislation that's backed by police.

It is linked to a second measure awaiting an Assembly vote this week that would allow police to use deadly force only when needed to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers or bystanders.

The bills were prompted by public outrage over fatal shootings by police, including the killing of unarmed vandalism suspect Stephon Clark in Sacramento that set off protests last year.

"This bill is a recognition that we have a problem," Caballero said of her legislation.

The vote came the same day law enforcement leaders and dozens of rank-and-file officers held their first Capitol rally to lobby lawmakers.

The pair of bills together will "make the state of California the No. 1 in the nation on dealing with use-of-force issues," said Brian Marvel, president of the rank-and-file Peace Officers Research Association of California.

The Senate bill includes training officers in how to work with suspects who are homeless, of different cultures, are mentally ill or have communication issues that can lead to deadly confrontations.