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California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

Posted at 7:34 PM, Jul 26, 2021

California is one of the only four states without the power to permanently remove law enforcement officers from their jobs. Now, some lawmakers are trying to change that.

California Senator Steven Bradford representing the 35th district is proposing a bill that would allow California to decertify police officers for misconduct, such as “abuse of power” and “physical abuse.”

"Now that I'm here, I'm working earnestly to make sure that California is no longer on that list of just a handful of states that no longer have a decertification process in place," said President of the California Police Chief Association and Seaside Police Chief, Abdul Pridgen.

Over the years, there have been a number of high profile cases reported of police officers involved in wrongdoings and were allowed to keep their license to work.

In a committee hearing earlier this year, Senator Bradford said, "California is able to revoke the certification or license of bad doctors, bad lawyers, even bad barbers and cosmetologists - you can even recall an elected official - but is unable to decertify police officers who have broken the law and violated public trust."

Bradford’s bill, known as SB-2, is the latest effort to hold California law enforcement officers accountable. If passed, the bill would effectively strip police officers of their license and kick them out of the profession if found guilty of serious misconduct.

"It's a bill that we wholeheartedly support. We just believe that there are some amendments that could be made,” said Chief Pridgen.

The bill would create a new division within the state’s commission on Peace Officer standards and training to investigate or review possible misconduct. Police associations and chiefs have some concerns about biases on the advisory board.

"It's heavily weighted towards people that could be perceived to have a bias towards police,” Chief Pridgen added, “And if it even appears as though someone has a bias, it's going to undermine the entire process. And people aren't going to have faith in it and they're not going to view it as legitimate."

As for who the advisory board should consist of, Chief Pridgen says, "We're just looking for objective people to sit on the panel who can make dispassionate decisions about whether or not somebody violated policy."

By August, California lawmakers will be taking up the police decertification bill. Chief Pridgen says the next steps will be compromise.