Your employer’s compliance with SB 230 benefits everybody, including individual officers.
By: Maureen Okwuosa
As many peace officers are aware, AB 392 instituted changes to the law governing the use of deadly force. SB 230, which became effective January 1, 2021, stands as the counterpart to AB 392, requiring each law enforcement agency to establish and maintain a use of force policy, as well as guidelines for implementing such policy.
SB 230 adds section 7286 to the Government Code, specifically providing guidance to law enforcement agencies and their peace officers to ensure force is used only to effect arrests or lawful detentions, overcome resistance, or bring a situation under reasonable control. SB 230 sets forth 20 benchmarks that must be included in an agency’s use of force policy. Examples of these requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Utilizing de-escalation techniques and other alternatives to force when feasible;
- Using force that is proportional to the seriousness of the offense or reasonably perceived resistance;
- Duty to report perceived potential excessive force, imposing an obligation on officers to intercede when they observe another officer using unnecessary force;
- Clear and specific guidelines in which officers may or may not draw or discharge a firearm;
- Training on use of force procedures and guidelines, and;
- Factors for evaluating and reviewing all use of force incidents.
SB 230 also adds section 13519.10 to the Penal Code pertaining to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (“POST”). Section 13519.10 requires the implementation of a course or courses of training for law enforcement agencies on the use of force, and the development and adoption of uniform and minimum guidelines for the use of force for law enforcement agencies. The guidelines must emphasize that an officer’s use of force is of vital concern to the community and that law enforcement should safeguard the life, dignity, and liberty of all persons. Such guidelines are to be used as a resource for each agency in creating or modifying a use of force policy.
In ensuring compliance with SB 230, each law enforcement agency should review the 20 requirements set forth in Government Code section 7286 and determine whether the adoption of new policies or the amendment of existing policies is necessary. Finally, pursuant to Government Code section 7286(d), associations should enforce their right to collectively bargain changes to workplace rules by demanding to “meet and confer” prior to the implementation of any new policy. Such demands should be made in consultation with legal representatives.
About the author
Marueen Okwuosa is a senior associate with the firm’s Legal Defense Group. Maureen defends public sector employees in administrative investigations, critical incident investigations, and disciplinary appeals. She also represents public sector employees in grievances and restraining order matters.