BILL NUMBER: AB 504 INTRODUCED BILL TEXT INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Furutani FEBRUARY 24, 2009 An act to add Section 13515.45 to the Penal Code, relating to peace officers. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 504, as introduced, Furutani. Peace officers: training. Existing law establishes the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training within the Department of Justice. Under existing law, the commission is required to develop and implement trainings for peace officers relative to certain areas of criminal law or procedure. This bill would require the commission to create and make available to all law enforcement agencies as part of basic training a training component on how to recognize and interact with persons carrying a kirpan, as specified. This bill would define a kirpan as a blade that resembles a sword and is required to be carried as an integral part of the practice of the Sikh faith. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares the following: (a) The United States was founded on the core principles of religious freedom, diversity, and equality for all. (b) Sikh Americans form a vibrant, peaceful, and law-abiding part of the United States community. California was one of the first places that Sikhs settled in this country over 100 years ago. Today, California is home to a large number of the nation's 500,000 Sikhs. (c) Sikhs are mandated by their religion to keep five articles of faith on or as part of their person at all times. These articles of faith are physical manifestations and reminders of core Sikh spiritual values which include honesty, remembering God, and providing service to humanity. (d) The five Sikh articles of faith include the kirpan. A kirpan is a religious article resembling a sword, which is integral to the practice of the Sikh faith. The kirpan is carried in a shoulder strap known as a gatra, as mandated by the Sikh Code of Conduct. The kirpan acts as a constant reminder to its bearer of a Sikh's solemn duty to protect the weak and promote justice for all. The kirpan is also an allusion to spiritual knowledge that cuts through ignorance and sin. (e) In the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Sikhs have experienced an unprecedented increase in prosecutions for carrying the kirpan. (f) It is the responsibility of the Legislature to protect religious freedoms, while ensuring public safety. Keeping those obligations in mind, it is the Legislature's goal to promote education and awareness of the carrying of the kirpan by Sikhs in California when its possession is in accordance with an integral part of the recognized religious practice of the person carrying it and there is a benign intent in carrying it. SEC. 2. Section 13515.45 is added to the Penal Code, to read: 13515.45. (a) The commission shall, upon the next regularly scheduled review of a training module relating to weapons violations and cultural diversity, create and make available training content on how to recognize and interact with persons carrying a kirpan. The training content shall be designed for, and made available, as part of its mandatory basic training, to peace officers employed by law enforcement agencies that participate in, and comply with, training standards set forth by the commission. (b) For purposes of this section, "kirpan" means a blade that resembles a sword and is required to be carried as an integral part of the practice of the Sikh faith. (c) The training course shall be developed by the commission in consultation with appropriate subject matter experts. The commission shall make the course available, as part of its mandatory basic training, to California law enforcement agencies that participate in, and comply with, training standards set forth by the commission. (d) In addition to the duties contained in subdivisions (a) and (c), the commission shall electronically distribute, as necessary, a training bulletin to law enforcement agencies participating in the commission's program on the topic of the kirpan.