New California bill allows citizens to refuse help to police officers during arrest

Newsom, California and police officer

California Governor Gavin Newsom did away Wednesday with a law that made it a crime to refuse to help a police officer. On Tuesday, the Governor signed a bill that no longer requires any “able-bodied person 18 years of age or older” in the state to help an officer who requests assistance during an arrest. 

The law dates back nearly 150 years to California’s Wild West days, when cowboys and outlaws roamed the state.

The law is known as The California Posse Comitatus Act of 1872.

State Senate Bill 192, which repeals the law, was first introduced on January 30, and it was sponsored by Senator Bob Hertzberg. Hertzberg originally tasked his interns with identifying outdated laws when they discovered it.

“Thank you to my interns for finding a law that belongs in the history books, not the law books,” Senator Hertzberg said.

Cory M. Salzillo, legislative director or the California State Sheriffs’ Association, told CNN that the bill sends a message that discourages cooperation or giving assistance to law enforcement, and that it creates this notion that you shouldn’t help law enforcement.

“We are unfamiliar with concerns with this statute other than it was enacted many years ago and carries a fine for a person who disobeys it,” the CSSA said in a statement in June. “There are situations in which a peace officer might look to private persons for assistance in matters of emergency or risks to public safety and we are unconvinced that this statute should be repealed.”

The Sacramento Bee reported that the old law was common in the country’s early days, but Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat who sponsored the bill, called the old law a “vestige of a bygone era.” The law was employed to help catch runaway slaves, the report said.

The old law made it a misdemeanor that carried a fine of up to $1,000 for refusing to help a police officer who requested assistance during an arrest.

The report said Newsom did not issue a statement after signing the bill.

The California State Sheriff’s Association said in a statement that it is “unconvinced that this statute should be repealed.”

Credit: Fox News