June 2, 2010
DA attends body armor legislation bill-signing ceremony
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley was in Sacramento today to attend a bill-signing ceremony where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed urgency legislation restricting the possession of body armor by violent felons.
The governor signed Senate Bill 408, which prohibits violent felons from possessing body armor such as bullet proof vests, at the urging of the district attorney and California State Sen. Alex Padilla.
"Violent felons who possess body armor represent a serious threat not only to law enforcement officers but to the general public as well," Cooley said. "This new law will help protect the lives of law enforcement officers and citizens by making it unlawful again in California for violent felons to possess body armor."
The law prohibiting violent felons from possessing body armor was challenged in the 2nd District Court of Appeals by Ethan Saleem, a felon convicted of voluntary manslaughter on parole when he was found in possession of a 10-pound, military-style vest commonly worn by combat ground troops. Late last year, the state court of appeals overturned the ban, calling it "unconstitutional."
In response to this ruling, Sen. Padilla authored SB 408 with District Attorney Cooley as the bill's principal sponsor. The law additionally makes it possible to charge any person convicted of a violent offense with a felony, if found in possession of body armor.
Marshall E. McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers' Association, called the legislation "innovative and resourceful."
"Law enforcement officers throughout the state owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Cooley for providing a straightforward, common sense definition of 'body armor' as 'a bulletproof vest, meaning any bulletproof material intended to provide ballistic and trauma protection for the wearer,'" McClain said.
Media Relations Division
Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office