Across our nation, movements for racial justice are challenging the role of police in our daily lives while demanding affirmative solutions. It's time for California to remove abusive police from our streets to protect Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and those with disabilities.
A recent analysis by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley found that over the last decade at least 630 officers in California were convicted of crimes. Many of them are still working, often by simply moving to a new police department. California is one of only five states that lacks the ability to remove the badge of police officers who commit serious misconduct – a process known as "decertification."
Community organizations like the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, Anti Police-Terror Project, Black Lives Matter California, California Families United 4 Justice, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, PolicyLink, STOP Coalition, and Youth Justice Coalition are mobilizing to stop these abusive cops by cosponsoring SB 731, the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act.
SB 731 is named in honor of Kenneth Ross Jr., a young man who was killed by a Gardena PD officer who has been involved in multiple officer-involved shootings and still remains on the force today. SB 731, introduced by Senator Steven Bradford, would establish a statewide process to decertify officers who are fired for specific misconduct such as excessive force, sexual misconduct, and dishonesty.
The bill also allows the CA Department of Justice to independently investigate allegations of misconduct and decertify officers who resign before they can be fired. By requiring law enforcement to report fired officers to the state and ensure that agencies check job history before hiring new officers, this bill would stop rogue police officers from moving from one community to the next.
Our laws have also denied justice for families whose loved ones have been killed by law enforcement. Judges have weakened California's Bane Civil Rights Act by requiring victims of police violence to prove that officers had specific intent to violate their civil rights – an impossible bar for most cases. SB 731 would restore the normal burden of proof, clarify that a wrongful death may violate the Bane Act, and allow victims to hold police accountable.
Without a process to decertify ruthless officers and make them answer for their misconduct, police will continue to take the lives of our loved ones and exploit their authority in our communities, threatening our safety. California must act now.
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