California to Decertify Police Officers Found Guilty of Misconduct

In a bid to strengthen the state’s reform of the police departments, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has signed a bill that will withdraw the certification of police officers found guilty of gross misconduct while discharging their duties.

The bill was introduced by Senator Steven Bradford to hold police officers accountable. After months of review and considerations on how the bill fails to provide officers with adequate representation, it was voted to pass by the Senate. 

Across the country, there are 46 states with comparable regulations that center on this issue. California goes along with them, leaving New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Hawaii as the only states that need to introduce such laws.

Through this new law, there will be an advisory board, Peace Officer Standards Accountability Advisory Board, with nine individuals that will assess incidents involving police excesses. The advisory board will likewise recommend if the Commission of Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) should withdraw the police officer’s certification. POST is responsible for the certification of police officers in the state.

Records containing information on the revocation of a police officer’s certification will be open to the public and access to the records of the investigation will be restricted for 30 years following the event. 

Initially, the bill recommended that two members of the advisory board should be former victims of gross misconduct by a police officer or a family member of someone wrongfully killed by the misconduct of a police officer. However, this was reviewed by the Senate and the new legislation encourages the governor to consider victims of police officers’ misconduct. 

The aim of the bill, according to its author, is that the legislation will eliminate violent police officers from the force and also enhance the relationship between cops and people in the state, especially people of color who are the most affected group of police violence and misconduct.

In 2017, findings confirmed 172 fatalities in the state because of police brutality, and about 75% of unarmed people killed by a cop were ethnic minorities. This implies that individuals under this group are the most vulnerable to police violence.

This new regulation is among the work of the state to improve the law enforcement agency. A bill will change the age to qualify for employment in the police force to 21 and also seeks to start a police degree program in all the community colleges in California. Another legislation will mandate cops to intercede if they are present during an incident involving a police officer using excessive force on someone.