Meanwhile, the state agency tasked with overseeing police training in California, the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) avoids providing clear guidance on the new law as it puts together training materials on AB 392. See e-mail.
Behind closed doors, POST officials complain about how the media portrays the law as changing the standard for use of force, and note they are communicating to others that AB 392’s standard is “already in practice.” See communication.
POST begins to create a training video to provide a legal update to officers about AB 392. Reviewing drafts of the video, POST officials call for removal of portions featuring the governor’s statements at signing about the purpose and effect of AB 392, arguing that the “tone could be very polarizing to our audience” and “taint” officers’ belief “in what the actual new law says.” POST officials also remove legal analysis indicating that the new law establishes that deadly force must be used only as a last resort, cutting off discussion of the new “necessary” standard. See e-mail.
Before POST releases any training materials on AB 392, Lexipol presents a webinar on the new law titled The “Act to Save Lives”: What Law Enforcement Need to Know About CA AB 392. See screenshot of the webinar.
Police departments across California receive promotional materials inviting officers to attend this webinar. See e-mail.
The presenter of the Lexipol webinar on AB 392 is Bruce Praet. In the webinar, he states: “The big question is, and I know everybody has been hearing in the media, oh my god, the legislature says we can only use force when necessary. Is that true? Simple answer: No. What is the new standard? The new standard is the exact same thing we’ve had for the last 50 years and that is Graham v. Connor objective reasonableness standard.”
The webinar slides include the following text:
- Is LE now limited to use of force only when “necessary” NO!
- So, what is the “new standard”? Same objective reasonableness as Graham v. Connor
Police departments across the state begin to use this Lexipol webinar to train officers on AB 392:
- Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department integrates the Lexipol webinar and slides into its department training on AB 392 and relies on the Lexipol webinar materials to create its own training presentation on AB 392.
- Pasadena Police Department officers view the Lexipol webinar in briefing training. The webinar is also screened at a meeting of the local police association. The chief emails his officers a link to Lexipol’s webinar with instructions to watch it and sends talking points drawn from the webinar materials. See correspondences: A, B, C, D, E.
- In Pacifica, the chief suggests that the Lexipol webinar should be screened at briefing trainings. See e-mail.
- Riverside Sheriff’s Department’s staff who train on use of force are instructed to watch the Lexipol webinar. See e-mail.
- POST itself distributes the Lexipol webinar to its bureau chiefs. See webinar.
Pomona PD leadership receive and circulate the link to the Lexipol webinar on AB 392, and Pomona PD’s head of training views the webinar. See e-mail. POST also circulates the webinar. See e-mail.
POST releases a short informational video about AB 392. It also releases a training outline on AB 392 that confusingly states: “Objective reasonableness remains the standard for evaluating the use of force.”
October 23, 2019
POST Executive Director Manny Alvarez sends an e-mail addressed to his "friends" at each of the major police lobbying organizations in California: PORAC, the California Peace Officers Association, the California State Sheriffs Association, and the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA). The e-mail provides the lobbying organizations with a link to the AB 392 video and notifies the police lobbyists that in the next week POST plans to roll out an AB 392 training course. See e-mail.
October 24, 2019
A lobbyist representing PORAC and CPCA reaches out to POST, demanding a meeting with Manny Alvarez to discuss the content of POST’s video on AB 392. PORAC and CPCA lobbyists assert that contrary to what the video says, AB 392 did nothing to change when deadly force can be used against fleeing persons, and the standard is the same as set forth by the Supreme Court in its 1985 decision, Tennessee v. Garner.
As POST leadership schedule an in-person meeting with police association lobbyists to discuss the video, a POST staff member expresses concern, stating that an officer’s decision to pull the trigger should be based on the facts at hand, the law, and department policy — “not what the intent of a labor organization or other special interest group was.” He states: “POST did the right thing by presenting an analysis of the law. Anything else would be a tremendous disservice to the men and women who have to make split second life or death decisions, and trust POST to provide them with an accurate analysis of the law.” See e-mail.
November 6, 2019
Nevertheless, after meeting with PORAC and CPCA lobbyists, POST caves to the police associations’ demands to remove a portion of the video discussing in detail the ways that AB 392 limited the use of deadly force against fleeing persons. See documents: A, B, C.
POST depublishes the video, which was already being used by police departments across the state, causing mass confusion. POST sends a proposed revised video on AB 392 to the lobbyists before publicly releasing it, seeking the police associations’ feedback and “final approval” first.
After PORAC President Brian Marvel responds “We are good with the video,” POST releases the revised video on AB 392. See e-mail.
November 13, 2019
Police officers across the state receive emails from PORAC promoting its podcast discussing AB 392. The podcast asserts that the bill “basically codified Graham v. Connor.” It acknowledges that “the big discussion has been necessary vs. reasonable,” but asserts that “if you read the bill [...] you’ll notice the standard is the same.” The podcast mentions that PORAC sent Praet’s written analysis of the bill to its membership and describes it as “wonderful.” The podcast states that PORAC is “working collaboratively with POST” to get out more information about the bill.
Lexipol pushes out an “updated” use of force policy to the law enforcement agencies that use its policies, which include 95% of all California law enforcement agencies. Lexipol’s use of force policy conflicts with AB 392 in several ways. It removes AB 392’s requirement to use alternatives to deadly force whenever feasible. And it entirely omits the “necessary” standard from the section addressing deadly force. See policy.
- Later, in Tulare County, a Sheriff’s deputy who asks for confirmation that what he has heard is correct — that AB 392 did not change the law at all — is told to simply consult this erroneous Lexipol policy for an answer to his question.
PORAC re-circulates the Lexipol webinar on AB 392 to officers across the state. PORAC’s email promoting the webinar reiterates that AB 392 brings California’s legal standard for when force can be used “in line with the Supreme Court standard already employed by most law enforcement agencies and departments.” See e-mail.
PORAC President Brian Marvel personally emails law enforcement officials a link to the Lexipol webinar, stating: “Great video by Lexipol. Bill Praet does a fantastic job analyzing AB 392.” Marvel’s email promoting the webinar is shared with the El Segundo Police Department and with the Torrance Police Department’s training coordinator. See e-mail.
Pomona PD, a Lexipol policy subscriber, adopts the “updated” use of force policy provided to it by the company. The “necessary” standard remains absent from the department’s policy on deadly force for nearly a year after AB 392 takes effect.
Pomona PD instructs its officers to view the version of POST’s video on AB 392 that omits the legal analysis of how AB 392 limited use of deadly force against fleeing persons, according to PORAC’s demands, and excludes the Governor’s statements about the bill and legal analysis connecting the “necessary” standard to the concept of “last resort” that POST removed from an earlier version.