OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The nation waits for a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derick Chauvin, accused of wrongfully killing George Floyd. Meanwhile, here, in California, the calls for police reform have been growing over the years, and there are those who say it’s time to hold police officers to the standards of their profession.
Oakland’s black community has had a rocky relationship with the police for a long time. But it fractured completely with the shooting of Oscar Grant in 1990.READ MORE: Fast-Moving Fawn Fire Near Shasta Lake Grows To 800 Acres; Evacuations Orders Expanded
“I felt everything about him because he was a real black man, just like I am,” said Oakland resident Kenneth Hodges. “They could come right now and blast me out of nowhere and I’m just standing on my two feet.”
But what shocked some people even more than Grant’s killing was that his shooter, BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, was actually found guilty and punished for the crime. That almost never happens.
“Of 1,300 police shootings since Oscar Grant, only ten have been charged and only one has been convicted,” said State Senator Steven Bradford.
Sen. Bradford has introduced SB-2, a police reform bill that would require officers to be licensed by the state. That way, cops who violate professional standards could be “de-certified,” by a review panel instead of having to wait for a court verdict.
“It’s similar to disbarring an attorney, taking a license away from a doctor, taking a teaching credential away from a teacher,” he said.READ MORE: Brazen Ball Bearing Vandalism Damaging Windows Along San Jose's Guadalupe Freeway
And once de-certified, a person could not work as cop anywhere else, which often happens when officers resign before they are fired.
“This is going to make sure that those bad actors will never be allowed to carry a gun and a badge in the State of California,” said Sen. Bradford.
The bill would also strip police officers of some of their immunity from lawsuits. Proponents say that would make it easier for citizens to hold cops liable when they break the law or deprive people of their rights, including using excessive force.
Also, the bill requires that the 9-member disciplinary board would include victims of police abuse and only two sworn law enforcement officers.
Brian Marvel, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of CA, which opposes the bill, thinks the deck would be stacked against officers.
“One of the panelists, their family member has to have been killed in the course of an officer’s duty. I mean, that person there alone is already predisposed to be rubber-stamp opposed to the peace officer who’s coming before the board,” said Marvel. “You take, like, a doctor’s licensing panel, I don’t think there’s any panel members on there that have died from malpractice. So why would we do that to peace officers?”MORE NEWS: 2 Crashes on I-880 in San Leandro, Oakland Clog East Bay Freeways
Marvel says law enforcement groups like his don’t oppose the idea of licensing people to be cops. They just want to be sure they’re treated fairly. Of course, that’s what people who are demanding reform would like, as well.