July 02, 2020

LAWT News Service


Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) introduced two measures aimed at enacting significant police reform in the state of California: SB 731 and SB 203.

“This is an important moment for the country as well as for California. Our criminal justice system must be fundamentally built with equity and accountability in mind,” said Senator Bradford. “It is unacceptable that a cycle of unanswered injustices exists, where officers fired for misconduct are rehired by another department, and very few are ever held accountable. This bill would make California a leading example for effective and comprehensive police officer accountability.”

SB 731, the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2020, would create a statewide process to automatically revoke the certification of a peace officer following the conviction of certain serious crimes or termination of employment due to specified misconduct. In addition, this bill would strengthen California’s key civil rights law to prevent law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations. SB 731 is also included in the California Legislative Black Caucus’ package of police reform legislation.

Kenneth Ross Jr. was a 25-year-old African-American who was shot and killed by a Gardena police officer in April 2018.

The officer who shot and killed Kenneth Ross was the last officer to arrive on the scene, but was the only officer who perceived a threat sufficient to discharge a weapon. Mr. Ross was unarmed and running from officers when shot, and he died at the scene. The officer who killed Mr. Ross was involved in prior shootings and has not been prosecuted for this incident.

California is one of only five states in the nation that does not have the authority to decertify law enforcement officers who have committed serious misconduct. Other states, such as Florida and Georgia, have led the nation in police officer decertification by inquiring into misconduct without regard to conviction for certain offenses.

Additionally, the bill will correct misinterpretations and impediments to full civil rights enforcement using the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act and bringing it into conformity with federal law. Given the issue of qualified immunity at the federal level, strengthening the Bane Act will be an essential resource to defend California civil rights.

Senator Bradford also introduced SB 203, which prevents youth, up to age 17, from being interrogated prior to being held in custody and before waiving their Miranda rights without consulting with legal counsel. Current law only requires youth up to 15 years old to consult with legal counsel before interrogation. That protection is set to end in January of 2025.

“The future of policing in California is dependent on ensuring that officers are held accountable and equitable to those they serve and protect,” said Senator Bradford. “It doesn’t matter what race you are, we must all come together to demand a fairer criminal justice system. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Governor toward passing these critical measures.”

Category: News