SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — California lawmakers were burning the midnight oil on the last day of the legislative session Monday, trying to send multiple police reform bills to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.
Senate Bill 731 involves decertifying police officers, much like how lawyers can be disbarred and cosmetologists can have their licenses pulled.
“Officers who get fired for excessive force, for sexual misconduct or dishonesty, for lying — if they are fired for those reasons, then this bill would establish decertification process. If they were decertified, they couldn’t go anywhere else in California and be a law enforcement officer,” explained retired Superior court Judge and former independent police auditor for the city of San Jose, LaDoris Cordell.
If signed by Newsom, California would be the 46th state to enact officer decertification. Retired Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan would like to see a uniform approach, without a different rule at every agency.
“I think it will make re-hiring problem officers more difficult to have a standardized set of practices in place with one agency governing that,” Jordan told KPIX 5 via Zoom.
Assembly Bill 1506 would require the State Attorney General’s office to investigate any police shooting of an unarmed person instead of local district attorneys. It is opposed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Jordan isn’t sure how it would work practically.
“All of those things considered, I’m not sure logistically how that would work for the attorney general’s office. I assume he would have to setup regional response teams,” said Jordan.
Assembly Bill 1196 would ban choke holds and carotid restraints by officers, but in the final days of the session, there was one more change that suddenly has the opposition of California police chiefs.
“The new language is, it also bans techniques and transport that has a significant risk of positional asphyxia,” Cordell told KPIX 5.
Another proposed bill would create a pilot program to have qualified community organizations respond to mental health calls and similar cases currently handled by police.
Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener said responses by armed police can often escalate problems, leading to violence. The bill would require the state to issue an unspecified number of grants worth a minimum of $250,000 to community intervention groups for three years and track the results.
It “empowers groups that have a demonstrated track record that they can protect their communities without guns, while freeing the police to focus on issues more suited to law enforcement training,” Wiener said.