SACRAMENTO—On Monday, August 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom, signed a bill that updated the requirements in which police officers are able to use deadly force when making arrests. 

Newsom refurbished the old law to make it clear that deadly force from a police officer may only be used when “absolutely necessary,” versus when it is considered “reasonable.”

“This is a time for healing, progress and looking forward. The bill goes to the heart of some of our most sacred principles, in which force should be exercised judiciously, with respect for human life and dignity,” stated Governor Newsom in a press release

Governor Newsom added new requirements to the bill to clarify the language in the previous rendition of the law. A few of the requirements include:

  • Police officers shall attempt to control an incident by using time, distance, communications, and available resources in an effort to deescalate a situation whenever it is safe, feasible, and reasonable to do so… “feasible” means capable of being done or carried out to achieve a lawful objective without increasing the risk to the officer or another person. 
  • A “threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury” exists when, based on the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable officer in the same situation would believe that a person has the present ability, opportunity, and apparent intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury to the police officer or another person.
  • There is a threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to the police officer or to another person if the subject is not immediately apprehended.

“Working on this policy has been a high hill to climb, but what has lifted me up is the energy and the devotion of the families who have lost loved ones to these shootings. Our hope all along has been to save lives and to finally establish trust between law enforcement and communities of color,” said California Assembly Member, Dr. Shirley Weber. 

The newly revised law will be enacted on January 1, 2020. For the full text of the bill, visit