California Gov. Gavin Newsom ended a Wild West-era law Wednesday that made declining to help a police officer a crime.
The governor signed State Senate Bill 192 that repealed the 1872 California Posse Comitatus Act, commonly used by police in the new frontier to create posses and hunt criminals.
The law punished any “able-bodied person 18 years of age or older” for refusing a police officer’s request in helping to make “an arrest, retaking into custody a person who has escaped from arrest or imprisonment, or preventing a breach of the peace or the commission of any criminal offense.”
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg submitted the bill in January as part of his office’s efforts to remove outdated laws from the California law books.
“Thank you to my interns for finding a law that belongs in the history books, not the law books,” Mr. Hertzberg said, according to CNN.
The law’s repeal has been met with opposition from the California State Sheriffs’ Association, which said it can dissuade citizens from helping police altogether and interfere with public safety.
“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,” CSSA said in a June statement.
“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for assistance in matters of emergency or risks to public safety, and we are unconvinced that this statute should be repealed,” the group said.
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