The California Assembly Friday passed a bill that modifies qualified immunity for law enforcement officers in the state and creates a state procedure for decertifying officers.
Gov. Gavin Newsom now has 12 days to sign or veto the bill, which passed the California Assembly with a vote of 46 to 18 on Friday. It was previously passed in the state Senate on May 26 with a vote of 26 to 9, Business Insider reports.
The bill, if signed into law the bill would effectively end qualified immunity for law enforcement in certain cases.
It would also set up a process by which law enforcement officers charged with wrongdoing — including sexual assault, excessive use of force, and perjury — are stripped of their badges.
“This is not an anti-police bill. This is an accountability bill. Without any accountability, we lose the integrity of the badge, and the bond with the community is broken,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Akilah Weber, who carried the bill in the Assembly.
The amended bill, she said, “affords ample due process for officers, provides necessary community representation, and ensures that good officers are not decertified.”
But they objected that the bill by Democratic Sen. Steven Bradford is biased because it relies on a nine-member disciplinary board with just two police representatives and seven members with professional or personal backgrounds related to police accountability, CBS San Francisco. reports.
"If this bill was just about decertification, we'd probably have no issue with it, but it's not, and they call it the decertification bill, but it's much more than that," Shaun Rundle, deputy director for the California Peace Officers' Association, told Spectrum News 1.
In a statement to CapRadio, Brian Marvel, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, said "SB 2 reaches far beyond the police licensing process and includes policies that would be incredibly burdensome on cities and counties that employ peace officers."
The same bill puts new limits on police qualified immunity from being sued for civil rights abuses, though Bradford had to significantly narrow that portion of his bill in response to concerns raised by his fellow Democrats.
It now only would end what Bradford has called “three of the most egregious immunities commonly asserted by law enforcement” — falsifying arrests, failing to provide medical care, or causing injury to a prisoner, CBS San Francisco reports.
The League of California Cities was among opponents, objecting that the bill “would eliminate the federally held doctrine of qualified immunity and create a largely unworkable peace officer decertification process.”
The National Police Support Fund, a grassroots pro-police organization, believes that qualified immunity is necessary for police officers to do their jobs.
"As homicides and other violent crimes continue to rise around the country, qualified immunity is essential for allowing police to do their jobs without fear of baseless legal action that could ruin their reputations and their careers," the organization said in an article on their website.
"Officers must have room to make mistakes or have moments of bad judgment without worrying about being sued," the National Police Support Fund said on their site.
The Los Angeles DA's office, now run by George Gascón, however, released a press statement saying it was in support of the bill.