California governor signs bill striking down law that made it a crime to refuse police officer's request for help

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomDon't break California's recall by 'fixing' it Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space Top Latino group endorses Padilla for full Senate term MORE (D) signed a bill on Tuesday striking down a dated law that made it a crime to refuse a police officer’s request for help.

The law Newsom struck down Tuesday, the California Posse Comitatus Act, dated back to 1872 and made it a misdemeanor for any “able-bodied person 18 years of age or older” to refuse a police officer’s call for assistance in making an arrest, The Sacramento Bee reported.


Posse Comitatus was derived from medieval English common law, according to the Bee. Its American use was widespread in the 19th century, including as a means of enforcement to help catch runaway slaves and for forming posses in the Old West.

The bill Newsom signed into law is sponsored by state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D), who called the outdated requirement “a vestige of a bygone era” that subjects citizens to “an untenable moral dilemma.”

Hertzberg’s bill was opposed by the California State Sheriff’s Association, which argued that “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for assistance in matters of emergency or risks to public safety and we are unconvinced that this statute should be repealed.”

Newsom did not issue a statement when signing the bill into law.

—Updated Thursday at 11:50 a.m.