Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 2, known as the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act, last week. Authored by State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), SB 2 aims to increase accountability for law enforcement officers who commit serious misconduct and illegally violate a person’s civil rights.
“California has one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the nation,” said Bradford. “But for too long, problematic officers that commit heinous acts in one department are either not held accountable and continue to be a problem for that community, or are punished, but able to find employment in another department. This rinse and repeat style of accountability has led to the continuous erosion of community trust.
“At long last, California finally joins the 46 other states with processes for the decertification of bad officers. I’m proud to have authored this landmark bill for California, which honors Kenneth Ross Jr. and the many others who have had their lives taken by police who abuse their power. My deep appreciation goes out to the families, community organizations, advocates and legislators who were willing to stand up and support this positive change. I applaud Governor Newsom for standing with us on this issue and look forward to working with the Administration on more ways to improve public safety and rebuild public trust in our law enforcement system.”
“Today is another important step as we work to prevent violence towards communities of color, drive out systemic racism in our society, and ensure everyone feels safe in our state,” said Atkins. “I want to thank my colleague, Senator Steven Bradford, for his tireless advocacy and leadership on the issue of police reform, Speaker Anthony Rendon for his partnership as the bill advanced, and Governor Gavin Newsom for continuing that good work by signing this bill into law. California remains committed in the fight for equality for all, and our work on these critical issues continues.”
SB 2 creates a statewide decertification process to revoke the certification of a peace officer following the conviction of serious crimes or termination from employment due to misconduct. Additionally, SB 2 will strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act to prevent law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations. For example, recently, two former Torrance city police officers were charged with conspiracy and vandalism. These officers left the department last year, but due to California lacking any kind of decertification process they have been rehired and their racist and hateful misconduct will be allowed to continue. This is simply one of numerous instances where a lack of accountability can lead to future abuses.
“Law enforcement is present at every stage of the decertification process,” continued Bradford. “This bill doesn’t make it impossible to decertify an officer, nor will it cause officers to be decertified for minor offenses. SB 2 creates one of the strongest decertification systems across the country with more due process for officers and civilian representation and input.”
SB 2 is a priority of the CA Legislative Black Caucus and is sponsored by a coalition of community organizations including: Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU California Action, Anti-Police-Terror Project, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, California Families United 4 Justice, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, PolicyLink, STOP Coalition, and Youth Justice Coalition.
“My son, Kenneth Ross, Jr. was murdered for doing nothing, but he’s with me spiritually and why I fight for change,” said Fouzia Almarou. “Cops who shoot and terrorize people don’t belong in our communities. This law is going to protect other families, and I hope and pray it will keep other parents from ever having to feel the pain I do.”