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Bill to banish bad cops from police work heads to governor’s desk

A contentious state bill to decertify bad police officers — preventing them from moving among California law enforcement agencies — is heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.

Senate Bill 2, co-authored by state Sens. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, and Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, was approved 28-9 on Wednesday, Sept. 8, in a final Senate vote, signaling the end of a years-long battle with law enforcement unions and associations. Newsom has until Oct. 10 to sign or veto the bill.

The proposal would create an elaborate system to decertify officers for serious misconduct and remove some immunity for police in civil lawsuits. It was inspired by the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr. in April 2018 by Gardena police Officer Michael Wayne Robbins, who transferred in 2016 from the Orange Police Department. Robbins, responding to a shots-fired call, shot Ross during a foot chase. A loaded 9-mm gun was taken from his left pocket, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Authorities found the shooting justified and Robbins has since retired from the Gardena department. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer also bolstered support for the bill.

“This is a major victory for advocates of public safety,” Bradford said. “California and the nation as a whole has experienced tragedy after tragedy where consequences for egregious abuses of power went unpunished and cries for accountability went unanswered — eroding public trust in law enforcement.”

If Newsom signs the bill, California would join 46 other states that have a process to banish problem officers. The states left without such a process are Hawaii, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Opponents of the bill have called it a slap in the face of law enforcement and complain it would establish an untrustworthy process to decide the meaning of “serious misconduct” and determine who should lose their eligibility to carry a badge and a gun.

“I strongly support additional efforts to keep bad employees out of the law enforcement profession, including a process for decertification. Unfortunately, SB 2 is a flawed solution,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. “The bill includes poorly defined language and creates an advisory board with the potential for an anti-law enforcement bias.

“The Legislature should work with stakeholders on a decertification process that accomplishes the goal of holding accountable bad peace officers without penalizing the vast majority of peace officers who take good faith actions each day in protection of their communities,” he said.

The bill would empower the state Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training to investigate allegations and determine who should lose their state certification. The group would receive recommendations from a nine-member accountability advisory board. In a compromise with critics, the bill was amended to require a two-thirds vote of the commission rather than a simple majority before an officer could be decertified.


Source: Orange County Register

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