New Bill Improves Police Protection for All People with Disabilities and Seniors


By Greg deGiere, Civil Rights Advocate, The Arc of California

In a far-reaching effort to provide much better police protection to adults and children with disabilities and older adults throughout the state, Assemblymember Pilar Schiavo has introduced AB 751, sponsored by Arc/UCP California Collaboration and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA).

Under the bill, almost every local police and sheriff’s department in California will be required to adopt a senior and disability victimization policy guiding officers. It is aimed at nothing less than a culture change in California law enforcement. A few of its many major provisions are:

  • Mandatory police investigation of every report of a major crime against a person with a disability or older adult.
  • Mandatory arrest of suspects based on legal probable cause when necessary or advisable to protect the victims or others.
  • Mandatory training of every officer.
  • Creation of a specialized unit in each law enforcement agency with advanced training.

In 2019, after years of incremental steps to improve law enforcement protection, the Arc/UCP and CARA teamed up to sponsor and pass SB 338, the Senior and Disability Justice Act by Senator Ben Hueso. That bill spelled out the policy and encouraged – and in some, cases, mandated – law enforcement agencies to adopt it. It passed the legislature without a single dissenting vote.

Following further legislation in 2020, Senator Hueso in 2021 asked for and, in 2022, got a Legislative Counsel opinion finding that the 2020 legislation had the effect of requiring almost all local law enforcement agencies to adopt the policy. This year’s AB 751 will codify that Legislative Counsel opinion.

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