Newsom signals support for police decertification bill next year

By Alexander Nieves 10/01/2020 11:26 AM EDT

Gov. Gavin Newsom late Wednesday indicated support for a law enforcement decertification bill that legislative leaders say will be a priority for 2021 after a proposal failed to receive a floor vote this session.

This year’s measure, CA SB731 (19R), would have created a system for rescinding the certificates of peace officers who have committed serious offenses, like use of excessive force or fraud.

Impact: Newsom’s support gives liberal Democrats and police reform advocates additional momentum heading into the next session after their initial effort to get decertification across the finish line ran into resistance from law enforcement and an icy response for more moderate lawmakers.

What happened: Newsom offered support for decertification in a veto message for another bill, CA SB1299 (19R). That bill would have required law enforcement agencies to notify the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training when an officer is terminated or resigns a pending investigation into their conduct. It was an effort to prevent errant officers from jumping from department to department after committing an offense.

Newsom said he was concerned signing SB 1299 would “slow momentum for broader decertification measures in future legislative sessions.”

Background: California is currently one of just a handful of states that don’t have a process for pulling an officer’s badge if they’ve committed a crime. The lack of a system for preventing problem officers from moving between departments has been criticized by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who called on the Legislature to pass a decertification law in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

While activism after the police killing of George Floyd propelled some bills forward this summer, the decertification proposal ran into opposition from law enforcement groups. They argued the bill, which was unveiled in June, had not been in print long enough to be properly vetted in a condensed session.

What’s next: SB 731 author Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) said he’s received a commitment from leaders in the Senate and Assembly that new decertification legislation will receive a vote by sometime around June.

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