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California near to ending 150-year-old posse comitatus law

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is moving to eliminate what state legislators call an outdated Wild West law requiring that citizens help police upon demand.

Lawmakers on Thursday sent Gov. Gavin Newsom a measure eliminating the California Posse Comitatus Act of 1872.

The nearly 150-year-old law makes it a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000 for failing to help police make an arrest or catch a fleeing suspect.

Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg of Van Nuys says his interns initially proposed eliminating a law that he says “belongs in the history books, not the law books.”

Democratic Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove of Los Angeles says it was also used to help apprehend runaway slaves.

She calls it “a visage of a bygone era” now that California has plenty of professionals to catch criminals.

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