California Law: Citizens Not Required to Help Officers in Need

Under an old law, citizens could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000 if they refused to assist law-enforcement personnel who requested aid

California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill on Tuesday that no longer requires any “able-bodied person 18 years of age or older” in the  Golden State to help a police officer who requests assistance during an arrest.

The old law, the California Posse Comitatus Act of 1872, was common in the country’s early days, as The Sacramento Bee reported and Fox News noted as well.

But Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat who sponsored the bill, said the old law was 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 new bill just signed by the governor was opposed by the California State Sheriff’s Association, the Bee reported.

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The association said in a 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for assistance in matters of emergency or risks to public safety and we are unconvinced that this statute should be repealed.”

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