Assemblymember Chris Holden introduced legislation, AB 1022, that establishes clear guidelines for police responsibility and accountability when witnessing excessive force by another member of law enforcement. If passed, a police officer’s “Duty to Intercede” would include physically stopping the excessive use of force.
“We were outraged when we watched the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer from a knee to the neck,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Equally disturbing, was the lack of intervention from the police officers who witnessed a clear use of excessive force.”
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.
In addition to requiring officers to physically stop the excessive use of force, the new law would require police officers to record and report the incident in real time to dispatch or the watch commander on duty in order to establish that officer has attempted to intervene.
A recent in-depth survey by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland found that the majority of Americans now support police reforms. The respondents who were a representative sample of American voters were asked about ten current police reform proposals currently in Congress.
“From Rodney King in 1991 to Stephon Clark in 2018, California has a bad a history with excessive use of force by police officers,” continued Holden. “With protection from the law, this legislation empowers police officers to do right thing.”
The new legislation also includes the following provisions:
• Prohibits retaliation against officers that report violations of law or regulation of another officer to a supervisor.
• Requires that an officer who fails to intercede be disciplined in the same manner as the officer who used excessive force.
• Establishes an internet website that makes specified public records of peace officers available in a form searchable by each officer’s name, and allows members of the public to file citizen complaints
• Disqualifies a person from being a peace officer if they have been found by a law enforcement agency that employs them to have either used excessive force that resulted in great bodily injury or death or to have failed to intercede in that incident as required by a law enforcement agency’s policies.
• Makes a peace officer who is present and observes another peace officer using excessive force, and fails to intercede as required by the policy of their employing law enforcement agency, despite having a present ability to intercede, an accessory in any crime committed by the other officer during the use of excessive force.