On Wednesday, a bill that would have the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) create new hate crime training measures for law enforcement officers was passed unanimously 8 to 0 by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
Increased hate crime training
Assembly Bill 2236, jointly written by Assemblymen Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), would also make it mandatory for most law enforcement officers to take and updated hate crime refresher courses every 5 years.
The bill was written largely in response to the growing number of hate crimes in many Californian cities and many police officers being unprepared on how to handle some situations involving hate crimes. AB 2236 was also kept for this sessions round of voting due to it’s connection to the coronavirus, as Asian-Americans have been increasingly target for harassment due to COVID-19 originating from China.
Following the unanimous vote on Wednesday, many ethnic group organizations wrote in praise of the bill being passed.
“We applaud the California General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee on its unanimous passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 2236 … which would strengthen California’s response to the recent rise in COVID-19 related hate crimes and antisemitic incidents,” the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles said in a Facebook post. “Most significantly, AB 2236 would better equip law enforcement to respond to hate crimes, including providing comprehensive training on hate crimes trends and best enforcement practices.”
Religious groups also supported the measure.
“The Hindu American Foundation has sent letters in support [for AB 2236] in the California state legislature which will expand education for police officer,” noted the Hindu American Foundation in a statement. “[AB 2236 is] timely given the documented rise of bias-related incidents in recent years. The latest FBI stats show that hate crimes directed at Hindus have risen rapidly in recent years, continuing a trend of rising attacks, vandalism, and arson directed at Hindu temples that dates back to 2015.
We applaud Assembly Members Jesse Gabriel (D-45) and Kansen Chu (D-25) for their leadership in introducing [AB 2236] and we’re proud to lend our support to such crucial legislation that will enhance protections for Californians of all backgrounds.”
A heavily amended AB 2236 moves on up
The bill was also heavily amended before it was sent on to the next Committee. Direct POST training in the form of a video was taken out in favor of more general higher training standards and the length of time between mandatory refresher courses was changed from 3 to 5 years. It also didn’t make the refresher courses mandatory for some law enforcement officials.
“Supporters know that there is going to be an uphill battle here later on,” said Annette Ryan, a former public relations and media worker for 3 separate police departments. “They’re foreseeing backlash from departments that already have comprehensive training for hate crimes, or from departments in less populated areas that never have to deal with this sort of thing.”
“That’s why the video was taken out and it’s only every 5 years for certain departments now. It can give updated and mandatory training for the departments that have shown a need for it. The ‘one-size-fits-all approach never really sticks across all police departments in the state. This is more custom now.”
Assembly Bill 2236 will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.