Police Training


A companion to the more high-profile bill Newsom signed in August that limits when police can use deadly force, Senate Bill 230 focuses on officer training. It establishes training programs on the new deadly force standard, and requires that basic training include lessons on de-escalation tactics, as well as awareness of mental illness, bias and cultural competency. It also requires law enforcement agencies to adopt policies that say officers must de-escalate situations when feasible, only use force proportional to the situation and intervene if they see other officers using excessive force.


The bill by Sen. Anna Caballero, a Salinas Democrat, is backed by the California Police Chiefs Association and several other law enforcement groups, which tout it as setting a national precedent by requiring consistent policies and mandatory training standards across all law enforcement agencies in the state. They originally proposed a different version of SB 230 as a rival to the bill to limit the use of deadly force, but lawmakers tailored the two bills to compliment each other.


The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups say SB 230 could undermine the goal of limiting deadly force that’s contained in the recently signed law, which they supported, by giving officers too much leeway in deciding whether to de-escalate a situation. The League of Women Voters calls SB 230 “toothless” because it does not include an enforcement mechanism to ensure that agencies follow the standards and guidelines it sets. 


California police shoot and kill someone every two to three days, a rate that’s higher than the national average. Emotional debate over how to reduce the number of shootings without putting officers in greater danger has consumed the statehouse for much of the last year and a half. SB 230 represents law enforcement’s solution to that dilemma.


Signed Sept. 12, 2019, in a private ceremony in the governor’s office after passing the Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support.