On September 30th, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a series of police reform laws to strengthen the state’s “use of force” practices and expose police abuse to public scrutiny. Among other things, the new laws creates a decertification system for law enforcement officers who have engaged in violent abuse and misconduct. In this article, our San Jose police brutality/civil rights attorneys provide an overview of the recent reforms to California law.
The Problem: Too Many Officers Were Allowed to Remain on the Force After Misconduct
The tragic 2020 killing of George Floyd by an officer from the Minneapolis Police Department set off strong nationwide protests and clear calls for reform of law enforcement practices. In California, there have long been serious questions raised about the lack of action against police officers found to have engaged in serious misconduct.
One of the most notable recent cases involves a law enforcement officer who allegedly wrongfully killed a civilian while with the Danville Police Department in 2018. Soon after, that officer got a job with the McFarland Police Department in Kern County. He now stands accused of wrongfully killing another individual.
California’s Police Decertification Law is Designed to Stop Department Hopping
One of the issues that police reform advocates want to address is the transfer of officers accused of misconduct from one department to another. Previously, there was no comprehensive system in place to stop a police officer who was terminated for misconduct—potentially even for police brutality—from taking a job in a department one county over. California’s new police decertification law is designed to help address this problem. Here are three things to know about the law:
- Enhanced Reporting Requirements: Police departments did not always report officer misconduct. Under the new reform bills, state and local law enforcement agencies in California will be subject to far more stringent reporting requirements. Starting January 1st, 2023, all allegations of serious misconduct against an individual officer must be reported to the statewide Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).
- A More Comprehensive Investigative Process: California’s police reform legislation also creates a more in-depth investigative process. POST will be empowered with additional tools to investigate allegations of police brutality and police misconduct to determine what, if any, sanctions are appropriate.
- New Power to Decertify Police Officers for Misconduct: Finally, the law grants POST clear authority to decertify police officers for misconduct. A state or local law enforcement officer found guilty of serious misconduct in California will automatically lose their certification. In other words, they will no longer be able to work as a police officer in the state.
As noted above, the full force of California police decertification law does not take effect until January 1st, 2023. There are some questions remaining about how the new law will be implemented. POST is charged with adopting a clear and comprehensive definition as to what constitutes “serious misconduct” by a police officer in California.
Call Our Silicon Valley Police Brutality Lawyer Today
Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. As safety lawyers we are committed to providing our clients and the public with information for safer and healthier living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.