Today me and my Client spoke to Telemundo regarding the historic new police decertification bill and its impact on public safety and accountability. This is a huge step in the right direction!
This interview was rather difficult due to the many technical difficulties on my end. Apparently, you should try to avoid doing a Zoom interview by cellphone; while in a parking structure; surrounded by tall buildings; and around noisy traffic. My apologies!
In this post, I would like to break-down the problem that this police decertification bill is meant to address, which may not have been covered in detail by the news segment.
In California, when an officer is accused of police misconduct, the police department opens an "investigation" into the incident. This investigation is commenced by receiving either a "citizen's complaint" or an "internal complaint" by the department itself.
However, during this "investigation," if the officer were to transfer to a different police department, in another city or county, then the "investigation" is terminated. When an investigation is terminated, then significant evidence, witnesses, and findings of officer misconduct are often lost, concealed, or destroyed forever! In other words, no "paper trail" of misconduct will follow this officer or the department.
This has led to police departments maintaining "unspoken" agreements to accept the other's problem officers, with the goal of helping the other avoid liability from lawsuits. However, as a result, we have problem officers in every police department who remain undisciplined, untrained, and unsupervised for their past misconduct. This increases the likelihood that someone in the future will be injured by their misconduct.
This bill attempts to address this problem by requiring each officer to maintain a certification or license, with a professional board, that will follow them regardless of the place of employment. This is similar to doctors and lawyers who must maintain good standing with a professional board in order to practice. If an officer is accused of committing misconduct, both the officer and police department will not be able to avoid accountability by merely transferring personnel.
As a civil rights attorney, I am very much in support of this bill.