Special Session: Assembly approves police conduct reforms bill | NevadaAppeal.com

Special Session: Assembly approves police conduct reforms bill

Assemblyman John Hambrick joins protestors outside the Legislature on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020 during the second day of the 32nd Special Session in Carson City.
David Calvert/Nevada Independent

The Assembly on Saturday voted to pass Assembly Bill 3, the bill imposing reforms on conduct of police officers including a ban on chokeholds.

The vote was 38-4 with Republicans Chris Edwards, Robin Titus, John Ellison and Jim Wheeler opposed.

Supporters included Assemblyman Tom Roberts, R-Las Vegas, a retired veteran Metro captain who said it isn’t perfect but a measure he can support.

Lawmakers were told that AB3 contains a number of police reforms that are already in place in Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Metro spokesman Chuck Callaway said that includes the chokehold ban and other techniques that restrict breathing or blood flow to the brain.

He said Metro also has the requirement that officers report the use of excessive force by fellow officers. In addition, the measure replaces the language allowing the use of all necessary force with “only reasonable force” to control and arrest a suspect.

All those elements are contained in AB3.

Callaway was joined by Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, who steered the process of writing the legislation.

Yeager pointed out that there is one situation where officers can still use chokeholds — in situations where their own lives are in danger in a fight with a subject.

Callaway said AB3 would impose all those requirements statewide but added that, to his knowledge, Nevada law enforcement already bar chokeholds in nearly all situations.

He said allegations of excessive force would generate an internal affairs investigation to determine whether the complaint is justified and whether the officer’s actions rise to the level of criminal conduct. The officer could face any penalties from a written reprimand to termination.

The bill also prohibits retaliation by the department against an officer for stopping or reporting a fellow officer’s misconduct. Callaway said that process would likely mirror what Metro currently does in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination complaints.

Finally, AB3 would require police agencies in Nevada to prepare reports explaining what data they currently collect in order to determine whether everyone is collecting the right data to decide what laws, rules and policies to impose on law enforcement.

Yeager pointed out that he and others involved in developing the legislation have received numerous emails opposing provisions in the bill.

“There is nothing in those emails that’s actually in the bill,” Yeager said.

He urged fellow lawmakers to correct those misconceptions where appropriate.