BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                     SB 5|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 5
          Author:   Maldonado (R)
          Amended:  4/28/09
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 4/21/09
          AYES:  Leno, Benoit, Cedillo, Hancock, Huff, Steinberg,  
            Wright

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8


           SUBJECT  :    Peace officer status for fire department bomb  
          technicians:  
                      feasibility study

           SOURCE  :     California Professional Firefighters


           DIGEST  :    This bill requires the Commission on Peace  
          Officer Standards and Training (POST) to conduct a  
          feasibility study regarding designating as peace officers  
          members of a fire department bomb squad unit who are  
          certified, by December 31, 2009, by the Federal Bureau of  
          Investigation as certified bomb technicians.  This bill  
          specifies that POST may seek reimbursement for the  
          reasonable cost of the study from the requesting person or  
          entity.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law provides that the following  
          persons are peace officers whose authority extends to any  
          place in the state for the purpose of performing their  
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          primary duty, or when making an arrest pursuant to Section  
          836 as to any public offense with respect to which there is  
          immediate danger to person or property, or of the escape of  
          the perpetrator of that offense, or pursuant to Section  
          8597 or 8598 of the Government Code.  These peace officers  
          may carry firearms only if authorized and under terms and  
          conditions specified by their employing agency:

          1. Members of an arson-investigating unit, regularly paid  
             and employed in that capacity, of a fire department or  
             fire protection agency of a county, city, city and  
             county, district, or the state, if the primary duty of  
             these peace officers is the detection and apprehension  
             of persons who have violated any fire law or committed  
             insurance fraud.

          2. Members other than members of an arson-investigating  
             unit, regularly paid and employed in that capacity, of a  
             fire department or fire protection agency of a county,  
             city, city and county, district, or the state, if the  
             primary duty of these peace officers, when acting in  
             that capacity, is the enforcement of laws relating to  
             fire prevention or fire suppression.

          3. Voluntary fire wardens as are designated by the Director  
             of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection  
             pursuant to Section 4156 of the Public Resources Code,  
             provided that the primary duty of these peace officers  
             shall be the enforcement of the law as that duty is set  
             forth in Section 4156 of the Public Resources Code.

          4. Firefighter/security guards by the Military Department,  
             if the primary duty of the peace officer is the  
             enforcement of the law in or about properties owned,  
             operated, or administered by the employing agency or  
             when performing necessary duties with respect to  
             patrons, employees, and properties of the employing  
             agency.  (Section 830.37 of the Penal Code)

          Existing law requires every peace officer to complete an  
          introductory course of training prescribed by POST and that  
          persons described as peace officers who have not  
          satisfactorily completed the prescribed training course  
          shall not have the powers of a peace officer until they  

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          satisfactorily complete the course.  (Section 832 of the  
          Penal Code)

          Existing law sets qualifications for "holding office as a  
          peace officer" including that applicants be found to be  
          free from any physical, emotional, or mental condition  
          which might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of  
          a peace officer.  (Sections 1029 and 1031 of the Government  
          Code)

          Existing law requires that any person or persons desiring  
          peace officer status under Chapter 4.5 (commencing with  
          Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code who, on  
          January 1, 1990, were not entitled to be designated as  
          peace officers under that chapter shall request POST to  
          undertake a feasibility study regarding designating that  
          person or persons as peace officers.  The request and study  
          shall be undertaken in accordance with regulations adopted  
          by POST.  POST may charge any person requesting a study, a  
          fee, not to exceed the actual cost of undertaking the  
          study.  Nothing in this article shall apply to or otherwise  
          affect the authority of the Department of Corrections and  
          Rehabilitation, as specified, to designate peace officers  
          as provided for in Section 830.5.  (Section 13540(a) of the  
          Penal Code)

          Existing law requires that any person or persons who are  
          designated as peace officers under Chapter 4.5 (commencing  
          with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code,  
          and who desire a change in peace officer designation or  
          status, shall request POST to undertake a study to assess  
          the need for a change in designation or status.  The  
          request and study shall be undertaken in accordance with  
          regulations adopted by POST.  POST may charge any person,  
          agency, or organization requesting a study, a fee, not to  
          exceed the actual cost of undertaking the study.  (Section  
          13540(b) of the Penal Code)

          This bill requires POST, upon receiving a request, to  
          conduct a feasibility study by POST regarding the  
          appropriateness of designating as peace officers, as  
          specified, members of a fire department bomb squad unit who  
          are certified, as of December 31, 2009, by the Federal  
          Bureau of Investigation as certified bomb technicians.  

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          This bill specifies that POST may seek reimbursement for  
          the reimbursement for the reasonable costs of the study  
          from the requesting party or entity.

           Background
           
          According to background provided by the author:  

            "The great majority -- approximately 90% -- of the  
            roughly 450 bomb squads in the nation are police/sheriff  
            department-based.  However, the remaining 10% of these  
            squads are a part of a fire department.  A certified bomb  
            technician is an individual who has attended the Federal  
            Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Hazardous Devices School  
            in Huntsville, Alabama, and is currently serving in the  
            capacity of a bomb technician for a recognized bomb  
            squad.  Once a technician completes the FBI course, he or  
            she is certified by the FBI regardless of the agency to  
            which they are affiliated and is issued an official bomb  
            technician credential.  More than 200 firefighters  
            nationwide have been certified by the FBI and trained to  
            deal with explosive devices, as well as utilize and  
            employ various types of related equipment.  Ultimately,  
            firefighters play an important and useful role in  
            bomb-related activities.

            "In California, four fire agencies have certified bomb  
            technicians performing in that capacity:  CAL FIRE,  
            Imperial County, Ontario City and San Diego City.  The  
            City of San Diego's bomb squad, for example, is more than  
            30 years old and one of the busiest in the nation.  The  
            City's 10 fire department bomb technicians are charged  
            with responding to all incidents involving explosive  
            materials, incendiary devices, improvised explosive  
            devices, military or commercially manufactured  
            ordinances, accidental explosions, bombings and other  
            related matters."

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/11/09)


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          California Professional Firefighters
          Ontario Professional Firefighters


           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author:

            "Unlike their law enforcement counterparts, as well as  
            fire department-based bomb squad technicians in other  
            states, in California, fire department-based bomb  
            technicians are not classified as 'peace officers.'  As a  
            result, these technicians are often placed at a critical  
            disadvantage when they are required to testify in court  
            regarding an emergency incident they may have diffused  
            and their credentials are questioned simply because of a  
            lack of 'peace officer' classification.

            "Also unlike their law enforcement counterparts and fire  
            department-based technicians in other states,  
            California's fire department-based bomb squad technicians  
            do not carry firearms because of the aforementioned  
            classification oversight.  This can pose a significant  
            safety threat to squad members when they are called on to  
            respond to a high risk incident that may involve  
            individual perpetrators who specifically are looking to  
            do these public safety personnel harm."


          RJG:mw  5/11/09   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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