California lawmakers approve bills to track racial profiling, police use of force
California lawmakers on Wednesday approved measures intended to shine a light on racial profiling and the use of force by police officers, a response to recent deadly, racially charged incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo.
One proposal would require police officers to collect data on the people they stop, including perceived race and ethnicity.
“The time has come to have a clear conversation with law enforcement about what we as a society will no longer accept — and that’s racial profiling by those who indeed take an oath to protect and serve all of us fairly and equally,” said state Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who presented the bill in the Senate.
Republicans who spoke against the measure said it would be costly to implement.
“An officer [will be] spending an abundant amount of time doing paperwork rather than being on the streets,” said Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Murietta).
The bill now goes back to the Assembly, where it originated, for final approval.
The Assembly passed a bill requiring police departments to submit yearly reports detailing all cases in which officers are involved in uses of force that result in serious injury or death.
Under that measure, it would fall to the state attorney general’s office to decide how the reporting would be done and to keep the data. However, the reports could not contain information that would identify the officers. The bill heads to Gov. Jerry Brown.
In other action Wednesday, the governor vetoed legislation to restrict the use of drones over private property. The legislation would have made flying a drone less than 350 feet above private property without consent a trespass violation.
“Drone technology certainly raises novel issues that merit careful examination,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “This bill, however, while well-intentioned, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.”
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of the bill, has said the measure would prevent camera-equipped drones from peeping into windows or other invasions of privacy.
An organization representing news photographers had urged the governor to veto the bill, saying it would be impossible to comply with or enforce.
The National Press Photographers Assn. said news photographers using drones could be sued if the vehicles strayed onto someone’s property while “gathering newsworthy information at a different nearby location.”
The organization also said it could be difficult for property owners to determine a drone’s exact altitude or location, which could prompt erroneous legal claims.
The governor also signed a measure aimed at helping prosecutors in “revenge porn” cases, in which an estranged spouse or romantic partner posts nude or sexual pictures of a partner to embarrass that person.
The measure, requested by the state attorney general, allows prosecutors to seek forfeiture of the images used in the crime and the data storage device used for the photos.
Times staff writers Paige St. John, Christine Mai-Duc and Phil Willon contributed to this report.
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