Assemblywoman Shannon Grove will present a bill before the Assembly Public Safety Committee tomorrow to give law enforcement increased authority to arrest adults for soliciting sex from minors. This legislation was a suggestion from Bakersfield Police Department officials who requested the law change to help them combat the human trafficking problem in Kern County.
“Any adult who tries to buy a minor for sex should face severe penalties,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove. “But under California law, a police officer can only arrest an adult for soliciting sex from a minor if they personally witness the crime. That’s outrageous. My bill says police can make an arrest on probable cause evidence.”
AB 2188 would allow law enforcement the authority to arrest any adult when there is probable cause to believe they solicited sex from a minor. Currently, law enforcement officials can only arrest an adult for soliciting sex from a minor if they witness the solicitation or if there is another witness to the crime.
Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson defended the need for this bill in a support letter where he stated, “It is our belief that there exists a need for stiffer penalties on offenders who solicit sex from girls who are minors as they are not legally allowed to give consent to participate in sex acts.”
Witnesses at tomorrow morning’s Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing include: Bakersfield Police Department Sgt. Jeff Burdick, Magdalene Hope President and Founder Doug Bennett, as well as several human trafficking victims.
Grove represents the citizens of California’s 34th Assembly District, covering a majority of Kern County.