By Tim Hunt
Police chiefs worried about assembly billUploaded: Apr 11, 2019
Pleasanton Police Chief Dave Spiller and law enforcement leaders across the state are deeply concerned about Assembly Bill 392.
The bill would change the decades-old definition of use of force by law enforcement from reasonable and necessary to just necessary. What that could mean—in the case of an officer-involved shooting—is mistaking a rubber gun for the real thing may have been reasonable, but wasn’t necessary in hindsight. That, plus the new requirement to examine how the officer handled the entire incident, could result in criminal charges against the officer.
That’s a change that has law enforcement officials banding together to oppose AB 392. They’re backing Senate Bill 230 that leaves the definition intact, but makes other changes to address training and other concerns about officer-involved shootings. AB 392 passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee after an emotional hearing this week and was referred back to the rules committee.
Should it become law, Spiller told the Pleasanton Men’s Club he expects any officer who can retire will do so. And recruiting will become even more difficult.
Pleasanton currently has five of its 83 authorized and funded positions vacant. Spiller emphasized the high standards he’s committed to upholding in Pleasanton. For instance, less than 6 percent of the 266 people who applied for an officer position were actually sworn in. He personally interviews every applicant—of the 104 he spoke with, 54 moved ahead to background checks. After those checks 16 were hired over the last three years.
Recruiting quality people already is a challenge and the bill would make it even more so.
Spiller said he’s already seen evidence of “de-policing” or the “Ferguson effect” in departments where officers stop doing their broad job and simply respond to emergency calls.
The burden from Sacramento lawmakers reaches into other areas. AB 955 that passed in 2015 targeted profiling by police. The data required of any contact includes 18 areas with drop-down menus. Spiller estimated it will take officers an extra 10 minutes after any contact to fill out the form digitally. He noted that Pleasanton, for many years, has collected basic data on any contact including race, gender, age and the reason for the stop.
He cited other changes that have made the job more challenging for his team, but emphasized how much he appreciated being chief in Pleasanton and the support all of the department receives from the citizens.
One of the pleasures of serving with Rotary International for many years was visiting other clubs and learning about what they’re doing to help others as well as making new friends.
I’ve known many Livermore Rotary members for many years and I am pleased to report one of their high-impact projects. Way back in 1992, John Shirley and Paul Thompson spoke to the club about their month-long trek and climb in Nepal. They had taken along supplies for a medical clinic in Kathmandu and, once club members learned about the clinic, they formed the Nepalese Children’s Fund.
They sent tens of thousands of dollars to Kathmandu in the 25 years since. After a devasting earthquake severely damaged the Navakirian Children’s Home in 2015, the Livermore Rotarians launched a rebuilding project for the home for 45 children. Partnered with the Rotary Club of Kathmandu Mid Town (another strength of Rotary projects is the on-the-ground local club), they have rebuilt the main building plus the boys’ dormitory.
The next job is to expand facilities to serve additional children. Rotarians have put together a special event on April 27 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the home of June and Dave Bedford in Livermore. It includes food and wine pairings by Nick from Uncle Yu’s at the Vineyard in Livermore plus music by Dani Lane and the Livermore Four and Nick Liang singing Italian arias. Bedford and his crew will serve a barbeque.
Tickets are $75. For more information, please contact Paul Thompson [email protected]