Dahle’s bill to help crime victims passes key hurdle 

With local law enforcement resources stretched in California, Senator Brian Dahle introduced Senate Bill 804, allowing Community Service Officers to give hearsay testimony in court, the same authority as sworn officers.

Brian Dahle.

Community service officers act as a bridge between victims and law enforcement, and with CSOs being used more frequently, the measure helps to increase efficiency and protect victims from reliving past trauma. Under this measure, CSOs will be held to the same experience / training standard sworn officers currently have.

“When sworn officers are forced to re-interview victims, already limited resources are further spread out,” Dahle said. “My district is very rural; sometimes, officers travel hours from one community to the next, which only exacerbates the problem. Additionally, victims will not be forced to relive past trauma by being interviewed a second time. It’s a commonsense bill, and a significant step forward in helping victims move on with their lives.”

Existing law, Proposition 115 “Crime Victim Justice Reform Act” Penal Code 972 allows sworn officers to testify as to the statements made by victims and witnesses during the investigation. This allows the district attorney to overcome hearsay objections as sworn officers have the authority to offer hearsay testimony. Due to the restrictions on CSOs testifying under hearsay rules, if they are called to court, current law requires that sworn officers re-interview old victims or ask the victims to attend preliminary trials to testify.

SB 804 now goes to the Assembly for consideration. Click here to watch Senator Dahle present the bill.

About Brian Dahle
Senator Brian Dahle represents California’s 1st Senate District, which contains all or portions of 11 counties, including Lassen, Alpine, El Dorado, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Siskiyou, and Shasta. Also serving deferred areas of Tehama, Butte, Colusa, and Glenn counties.