California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Thursday that will make it easier to strip law enforcement officers with misconduct records of their badges and keep them from moving to another law enforcement agency without facing discipline.
“This has been hard,” Newsom said at a press conference in the Los Angeles area. “We have a lot to be proud of, but there are areas where we have nothing to brag about. California has asserted itself in certain areas, but it’s remarkable that we still struggle in other areas.”
Supported by the ACLU and community organizing groups, the new law sets up a multi-step review process to determine whether an officer’s conduct warrants a suspension or license revocation.
The Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training would first review a local agency’s investigation into the officer’s behavior and determine if another probe is necessary. An advisory board made up of two law enforcement representatives, six members of the community and an attorney could also be recruited to analyze the facts and offer a disciplinary recommendation, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Law enforcement unions and associations lobbied against SB 2. Opposing groups largely supported a decertification process in California, but raised questions about the composition of the advisory board over fears that it would be biased against officers.
Democrats and Republicans during floor debates made similar arguments and expressed concern that officers already feel demonized in California. SB 2 passed the Senate on a final 28-9 vote and the Assembly by 49-21. Many moderate Democrats in the Assembly abstained from voting.
In a statement, the Peace Officers Research Association said it was still worried about the board, along with what it considers “unclear, subjective and vague definitions” of “serious misconduct.” The association also said the new law doesn’t address California Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights, a law that offers some protections to police facing misconduct investigations.
Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 89: Previously, officers had to be at least 18 to get hired. This new law raises the hiring age to 21 and establishes certain higher education requirements for employment.