SAFETY BILLS

California Senate Bill 296

On October 7, 2021 California Governor Newsom signed and approved Senate Bill 296. This added Section 829.7 to the California Penal Code. The Legislature finds and declares "that code enforcement officers are disproportionately at risk for threat, assault, injury, and even homicide due to the nature of their obligations."

 

Penal Code Section 829.7 now reads: Each local jurisdiction that employs code enforcement officers shall develop code enforcement officer safety standards appropriate for the code enforcement officers employed in their jurisdiction.

 

As the national non-profit charity focused on Code Enforcement Officer Safety and recognized by the International Code Council, the Foundation is here to provide guidance to jurisdictions. This section requires that each municipality and jurisdiction shall develop officer safety standards for their Code Enforcement staff. This would be achieved by doing a risk assessment based on the duties and responsibilities given to Code Enforcement staff. Officer safety standards can include a variety of topics that include training, policies, and officer safety equipment. Every jurisdiction is different and may have different job duties for their Code Enforcement Officers.

 

The national Code Enforcement Officer Safety Foundation (CEOSF) has recommendations for California jurisdictions to meet the requirements of Penal Code Section 829.7. We first recommend that Human Resources and Risk Management meet with their Code Enforcement staff and seek input on training, policies, procedures, and equipment based on the duties they are assigned. Many Code Enforcement Division's are tasked with marijuana grows and dispensaries, homeless camps, unpermitted construction, COVID enforcement, and so many other tasks that involve issuing citations and taking enforcement in dangerous situations.

Important Links & Documents:

Lifeline Special Edition - SB296CEOSF President
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The Code Enforcement Officer Safety Foundation recommends the following minimum standards for all Code Enforcement Divisions and have listed additional items to be considered. All officer safety equipment can be issued with the proper training required by law and the implementation of policies and procedures.

Officer safety recommendations from the national Code Enforcement Officer Safety Foundation:

 

Training

  • Require staff to attend the national CEOSF Code Official Safety Specialist certification program. This is a comprehensive five course certification program that includes 15 hours of officer safety training. It is completely virtual and can receive continuing education unit's for the International Code Council and state associations. Your staff can now be certified in Officer Safety.

  • Allow and encourage Code Enforcement staff to attend continuing education classes on the topic of officer safety.

  • Participate in required training for officer safety equipment typically through POST (i.e. pepper spray, tasers, and firearms)

 

Policies & Procedures

  • Adopt or update a policy and procedure manual for outlining officer safety training requirements, officer safety equipment, and officer safety incident reporting requirements. If not currently in place develop an incident reporting system to track all officer safety incidents to include, but not limited to, threats, intimidation, harassment, stalking, assault, and homicide.

  • CEOSF has templates of adopted policy and procedure manuals from California agencies. They are available upon request at info@codeofficersafety.org

 

Equipment

  • Radios - Preferably to local Police or Sheriff Department with access to a monitored dispatch system.

  • Body Armor - Level IIIa+ either concealable under the clothing or worn externally.

  • OC Spray (Pepper Spray) - Typically provided by the jurisdictions Police Department with training.

  • ASP Expandable - Requires POST training class, but very helpful with general self defense and animals.

  • Tactical Flashlight - Important for interior inspections or work at night.

 

Additional Recommendations

  • Electronic Control device (i.e. Taser) - Similar to many Park Rangers, Animal Control, and CSO's. Requires law enforcement training class.

  • Firearm (either concealed or not) - Per existing Penal Code 830.17, Enforcement Officers that enforce illegal dumping can be armed and have arrest powers. This option requires POST and Department firearms training and qualifications.

  • Adopt additional policies to cover these items and training by using the Police Departments policies adopted to Code Enforcement if necessary.