(SACRAMENTO) – The California Assembly today passed Assembly Bill 1920, legislation authored by Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D – Concord) which makes it a crime to impersonate a government-affiliated search and rescue team.
“My bill will protect the public and ensure the integrity of professional search and rescue personnel who are officially registered, trained, and affiliated with government jurisdictions,” said Assemblymember Grayson.
It is currently unlawful to impersonate a police officer, firefighter, veteran, or public utility employee, yet there are no provisions in existing law that penalizes individuals or organizations that fraudulently present themselves as “Search and Rescue” teams.
In many instances, these groups are not accredited nor are they affiliated with any charities or law enforcement group. Yet they solicit funds through phone and direct mail, giving the public the impression that they are in conjunction with local and state law enforcement. Often, citizens do not know that these groups are not vetted, trained, certified, or insured, and are misled into donating money to what they believe is a good cause.
"Assembly Bill 1920 would ensure that search and rescue personnel have gone through some degree of appropriate training, are properly certified by the California Office of Emergency Services, and are accurately screened," said Sheriff Bill Brown, President of the California State Sheriffs' Association.
AB 1920 is sponsored by California State Sheriffs' Association and supported by several law enforcement organizations. The bill proceeds to the Senate for further consideration.
Tim Grayson represents the 14th Assembly District that includes the communities of Benicia, Concord, Clayton, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Vallejo, Pittsburg and Walnut Creek. For more information please visit the Assemblymember’s website, www.assembly.ca.gov/a14.