Oakland’s First Presbyterian Church continues serving the Division of Meals in the course of the pandemic
California Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chairman of the California Legislature Black Caucus (CLBC), admits he will face challenges on his way to police reform in California.
Last week, at a Senate Judicial Committee hearing, he defended a bill he had introduced to the legislature that, if passed, would decertify the police for improper conduct. During that performance, Bradford made a compelling case for police reform that was alternating energetic and thoughtful and brought cool-headed but passionate voice on a subject that has created a bitter chasm in the California electorate, and police reform advocates violently opposed attacked people who support law enforcement.
“This is a difficult subject, but it is a righteous problem,” Bradford told his colleagues.
“And we want to purposely think about what we are doing here in California when it comes to police reform,” he continued during his passionate closing argument for police reform on April 27th. What we want to achieve is by design. This is a fair measure and far better than any other out there today. “
Senate Bill (SB) 2 was co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and retired from the Senate Judiciary Committee 7-2 on the same day. The law, also known as the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021, aims to increase accountability for law enforcement officers who commit serious misconduct and illegally violate an individual’s civil rights.
SB 2 will introduce a nationwide process to revoke certification of a peace commissioner after conviction for serious crimes or termination of employment for misconduct.
Bradford praised the majority of the judiciary committee’s votes, describing it as progress that would put California on the “right side of history”.
“The passage of SB 2 (April 27) is another step towards achieving much-needed police accountability, and I thank Senator Bradford for his unwavering commitment to delivering critical and necessary reforms,” said Atkins . “As with anything this big, I still have a lot of work to do and I continue to seek to work with my peers to enable that bill to cross the finish line.”
The California Peace Officer Association (CPOA) believes Bradford’s bill would turn the California Police Officer Standards and Training Committee (POST) into an investigative agency. A sticking point for the group is that the people who would be empowered to investigate police wrongdoing would be primarily non-peace officials.
“We know, of course, that not all reform is good reform, and CPOA is open to redefining public safety in California, among other things,” said Shaun Rundle, deputy director of CPOA, in a written statement on several police reform bills and scheduled for public safety hearings. “What we didn’t envision, however, were the continued attacks on a noble profession that have proven year after year to improve and fight crime in this state.”
With the adoption of SB 2 by the committee, the legislation will be forwarded to the Senate Committee for Funds for review. If it leaves that committee, SB 2 could go to a Senate vote.
During the Justice Committee hearing, which lasted nearly three hours, some Senators expressed their support but asked Bradford to change the language in connection with the Bane Act.
SB 2 would strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act. This legislation was passed in 1987 and prevents law enforcement abuses and other violations of civil rights. Legislation, written by Californian Congregation member Tom Bane, was created to allow victims to seek damages and punitive damages, legal fees, and civil penalties.
Proponents of police reform in California say the Bane Act has been undermined over the years by poor court rulings. They argue that it was once an effective law designed to protect people’s civil rights in the state, but has since been weakened as an effective control against excessive use of force by the police.
The California State Sheriffs’ Association views SB 2 as being problematic in terms of hiring, recruiting, and maintaining staff.
“We are concerned that the language used to remove workers’ immunity from civil liability of the state is causing individual peace commissioners to hesitate or fail to act for fear that what they believe to be lawful could lead to litigation and can cause damage. In doing so, SB 2 is very likely to endanger public safety and affect our ability to recruit, hire and retain qualified individuals, “the California State Sheriffs’ Association said in a written statement.
Bradford says his bill essentially deals with the surveillance of rogues and hinders the ability of laid-off officials to find employment with other agencies, even if they have wrongdoing that has terminated them.
States that have no process for decertifying police officers for criminal conduct include Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California.
“We’re leaders in technology, we’re leaders in the environment, we’re leaders in all the things that matter except criminal justice reform,” said Bradford, citing California’s reputation as a political leader on several fronts.
People of color live in the communities where most of the police misconduct incidents occur, Bradford said, adding that SB 2 will save the lives of blacks and browns.
“How many people, regardless of their skin color, have lost their lives as a result of persistent law enforcement?” Bradford asked his colleagues. “There are two judicial systems in this country. But you will never know and really understand. It is very different from anything you have encountered or will encounter. “