California Lawmaker Introduces Legislation That Would Decertify Cops for Misconduct

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Joe Jurado
·3 min read
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California is one of only four states that doesn’t have a process to decertify cops. New legislation introduced by state lawmakers would allow the state to finally have an avenue to weed out cops who commit misconduct.

According to the Associated Press, state Sen. Steven Bradford, head of the Senate Public Safety Committee, has introduced a series of sweeping proposals that would see the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training issue proof of eligibility licenses to police officers. Of the over 200 professions that require a license in California, law enforcement isn’t one of them. As such, it’s harder to punish cops for misconduct since qualified immunity makes it a struggle for cops to be tried under the law for misconduct.

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From the AP:

Bradford’s bill would give the commission the power to investigate officers and revoke their eligibility for wrongs including using excessive force, sexual assault, making a false arrest or report, or participating in a law enforcement gang. Some of those investigations could be retroactive under his revised proposal.

Police could also lose their badges for “acts demonstrating bias” based on race, religion, sexual orientation or mental disability, among other criteria.

Bradford said in his bill that three of every four unarmed persons killed by police were people of color.

“These are officers who have abused their authority and violated the public trust, and we all agree they must be held accountable,” Bradford told the AP. “We (in California) claim to be a leader in all things — we shouldn’t be an outlier when it comes to police reform.”

Bradford’s proposal isn’t the only one being considered in the state legislature, as a bill introduced by Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham would require law enforcement agencies to complete investigations on officer misconduct even if they resign or are fired. Incomplete investigations often lead to officers accused of misconduct simply moving to new departments with little to no recourse.

Bills introduced by Assemblyman Jim Cooper and Assemblyman Rudy Salas would have stronger law enforcement ties on a panel intended to consider decertifying officers, with no mention of the delicensing or lawsuit provisions in Bradford’s bill.

Law enforcement unions in California have said they are in favor of a process to permanently remove bad cops from the force but are against Bradford’s bill because there wouldn’t be enough law enforcement representatives on the proposed panel that would consider decertification.

“Unfortunately Senator Bradford is intent on making a political point instead of creating good policy,” the unions said in a joint statement.

The proposed panel would consist of two current or former members of law enforcement, a decrease from Bradford’s prior proposal. Bradford explained the change, saying that the panel “should be a reflection of the community.”

That makes sense to me. After all the fuckery and racism we’ve seen cops capable of over the last, uh, forever, I don’t quite trust the blue lives crew to be fair and unbiased when it comes to discipline.

“Decertifying police officers (who abuse their power) … is key to building trust between the police and the communities and changing the culture of policing in this state,” Cephus Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate whose nephew, Oscar Grant, was killed in 2009 by San Francisco transit police, told the AP.