Reform: Police Decertification Bill Introduced
Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Senate President pro Tempore Atkins (D-San Diego) introduced Senate Bill 2 to increase accountability for law enforcement officers that commit serious misconduct and illegally violate a person’s civil rights.
“The time is now to pass meaningful and common-sense police reform,” said Senator Steven Bradford. “California is able to revoke the certification or licenses of bad doctors, lawyers, teachers, and even barbers, but is unable to decertify police officers who have broken the law and violated the public trust. It’s time for California to join the majority of the nation and create a process to decertify bad officers. I look forward to working with Pro Tem Atkins, my colleagues, and all stakeholders to have this bill signed into law.”
“The goal of SB 2 is to improve public safety and protect our communities, particularly communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by police misconduct. At the end of last session, Senator Bradford and I committed to our colleagues and constituents that we would bring back legislation that holds police officers who engaged in serious misconduct accountable. With the new session beginning, we are making good on our word,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins. “We look forward to working closely with the California Legislative Black Caucus and other stakeholders to ensure this important bill becomes law, making our communities safer for all Californians.”
SB 2 will create a statewide decertification process to revoke the certification of a peace officer following the conviction of serious crimes or termination from employment due to misconduct. Additionally, SB 2 will strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act to prevent law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations.
California is one of only five states in the nation that does not have the authority to decertify law enforcement officers who have committed serious misconduct. Other states, such as Florida and Georgia, have led the nation in police officer decertification by inquiring into misconduct without regard to conviction for certain offenses.
SB 2 is sponsored by a coalition of community organizations including: Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU of California, Anti-Police-Terror Project, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, California Families United 4 Justice, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, PolicyLink, STOP Coalition, and Youth Justice Coalition.
“When police kill and abuse our community members, decertifying them—taking away their badges—is literally the least we can do,” said Dr. Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
Earlier this year, Senator Bradford authored Senate Bill 731, also known as the Kenneth Ross, Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2020, which failed passage on the Assembly Floor. The bill was not brought up for a vote due to the legislative deadline imposed by the California State Constitution. SB 731 was a priority of the California Legislative Black Caucus and supported by a broad coalition of organizations, community activists, and celebrities.
“This issue is personal to me as the Vice Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and currently the only Black member of the State Senate,” Senator Bradford continued. “We have felt the consequences of bad policing in the 35th Senate District with the recent killings of Kenneth Ross, Jr. and Andres Guardado. SB 2 will ensure that these officers are held accountable for their actions and are not be allowed to simply move to a different department and bring injustice to another community.”
Kenneth Ross, Jr. was a 25-year-old African-American who was shot and killed by a Gardena police officer in April 2018. The officer who shot and killed Kenneth Ross was the last officer to arrive on the scene, but was the only officer who perceived a threat sufficient to discharge a weapon. Mr. Ross was unarmed and running from officers when shot, and he died at the scene. The officer who killed Mr. Ross was involved in prior shootings and has not been prosecuted for this incident.
“My son, Kenneth Ross, Jr., was murdered on April 11, 2018 by a Gardena police officer who had shot three other people and had no business with a badge and a gun,” said Fouzia Almarou. “If he had been decertified after the first person he shot, Kenneth would likely still be alive to raise my grandson and be with me and his siblings.”