Newsom signs landmark police use of force bill, and a study suggests 2014 law averted mass shootings

Good morning, California.

“The bill is watered down, everybody knows that. But at least we are getting something done. At least we are having the conversation now.”—Stevante Clark, to the L.A. Times’ Anita Chabria.

New rules for police use of force

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill establishing a new standard for police use of force.

California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento—and fueled by the deaths of many others.

To read CalMatters’ report, please click here. And to view a CalMatters video explaining the legislation, please click here.

Newsom signed the legislation by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, San Diego Democrat, amid unusual fanfare, convening legislators and family members of people who have died in police shootings in a large courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building.

Under the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, police may use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.”

  • Newsom: “It is remarkable to get to this moment on a bill that is this controversial. But it means nothing unless we make this moment meaningful.”

Kori McCoy was among the family members of people shot to death by police who attended the event. His brother, Willie McCoy, was shot Feb. 9 while he slept at a Taco Bell in Vallejo. Six officers fired 55 rounds, hitting him more than 20 times:

  • “I don’t think this [legislation] is going to totally change everything, but it definitely is a piece, and we’ll take it.” 

P.S. Newsom plans to travel to Riverside today to attend the funeral of California Highway Patrol Officer Andre Moye Jr., who was killed by an ex-felon during a traffic stop.

After the bill signing, Newsom praised police, saying the “overwhelming majority are extraordinary and honorable people.”

For Tyler Diep, it’s personal

Assemblyman Tyler Diep, lower left, in Appropriations Committee

Assemblyman Tyler Diep was 8 when he arrived in San Diego with his mom and dad from their native Vietnam in 1991. He remembers clearly the welfare check they received: $800 a month, $500 of which went to rent.

Now, Diep is the rare Republican who is publicly denouncing President Trump’s proposal to restrict  immigrants from getting green cards if they’re on public assistance.

  • Diep: “I’ve been staying quiet for a while, but it gets to a point where I don’t know if this type of policy is going to stop. It seems like every day there is more and more stuff coming out targeting immigrants, even the legal ones.“

He took a stand first by tweeting his dim view of the policy, and then by talking with me. To read my piece about our conversation, please click here.

By the way: 

  • Travis Allen, a Republican who fully embraced Trump and his policies during his run for the Republican nomination for governor last year, previously held Diep’s seat, Assembly District 72 in Orange County.
  • Diep won in 2018 despite being outspent by Democrat Josh Lowenthal $2.57 million to $1.28 million.
  • Diep’s district is 23.4% Vietnamese-American. 
  • Democratic Assemblyman Ash Kalra’s San Jose district has the next-largest concentration of Vietnamese-Americans at 18%, explaining why the two team up on resolutions related to the Vietnam war.

Over coffee last week, Diep noted that Vietnamese-American constituents would vote for him no matter his party registration.

Mass shootings that didn’t happen

Gilroy shooting assault rifle WASR 10
The Romanian-made semiautomatic rifle used in the Gilroy shooting

California’s “red flag law” allowing judges to order unstable people to relinquish their firearms appears to be helping to reduce mass shootings, researchers at the state-funded University of California’s Violence Prevention Research Program found.

Remind me: Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in 2014 authorizing judges, acting on law enforcement officials’ requests, to issue gun violence-restraining orders taking guns from people who seem to be dangers to themselves or others. 

In a review of 159 cases, the Violence Prevention Research Program found 21 instances in which extreme risk protection orders were issued to prevent mass shootings.

The study: “It is impossible to know whether violence would have occurred had [extreme risk protection orders] not been issued, and the authors make no claim of a causal relationship. Nonetheless, the cases suggest that this urgent, individualized intervention can play a role in efforts to prevent mass shootings, in health care settings and elsewhere.”

Veronica Pear, one of the authors, told CalMatters’ Ben Christopher: “In the face of all these mass shootings recently, it’s … very easy to feel helpless. But I think [gun violence-restraining orders] are a real way for us to play a part in preventing mass shootings.” 

Assemblyman Phil Ting, San Francisco Democrat, is carrying legislation that would authorize an employer, coworker or teacher to petition courts for such an order. 

  • Physicians, law enforcement and gun control advocates support it. 
  • The National Rifle Association and ACLU are opposing legislation that would expand the use of gun violence-restraining orders.

Adding fuel to fire over sex abuse

Lorena Gonzalez looks on while sitting at her desk in the Assembly chamber.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, December 2016

As lawmakers prepare to vote on a bill to expand the right to sue over child molestation, a Hearst Connecticut Media investigation has found 250 victims in 30 states, including California, who say they were sexually abused by people affiliated with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The report by Hearst’s Hannah Dellinger is sure to play into the argument in favor of Assembly Bill 218 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego Democrat. 

The measure would allow people up to age 40 to sue over molestation that occurred in their childhood, and provide for treble damages for institutions that covered up molestation. Public schools and private organizations are opposing the measure.

Hearst: Joey Piscitelli, a California man who was molested at the former San Pablo Boys Club in the ’70s, said he didn’t know that what was being done to him was abuse.

  • “I didn’t know that existed, and even when it happened to me, I still didn’t know it was wrong.”

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation twice. But there’s a new occupant of the corner office.

Commentary at CalMatters

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, San Luis Obispo Republican: The epidemic of teenage vaping, like those of the past, deserves a robust and comprehensive public policy response. Bipartisan legislation developed in concert with recommendations by health experts is the response our children need and deserve.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Rising costs for public employee pensions threaten city services and will require higher taxes.

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