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Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom approved extensive police reform measures on Thursday.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, eight measures were signed into law that “include raising the minimum age for police officers from 18 to 21, and allowing their badges to be permanently taken away for excessive force, dishonesty and racial bias.”
“In addition, the new laws set statewide standards on law enforcement’s use of rubber bullets and tear gas for crowd control, and further restrict the use of techniques for restraining suspects in ways that can interfere with breathing,” the outlet added.
A press release from Newsom’s office stated that the governor “signed legislation creating a system to decertify peace officers for serious misconduct.”
It added, “The Governor also signed legislation increasing transparency of peace officer misconduct records, improving policing responsibility and accountability guidelines, raising eligibility standards and banning harmful restraint techniques.”
“Today marks another step toward healing and justice for all,” said Governor Newsom. “Too many lives have been lost due to racial profiling and excessive use of force. We cannot change what is past, but we can build accountability, root out racial injustice, and fight systemic racism. We are all indebted to the families who have persevered through their grief to continue this fight and work toward a more just future.”
“Today is an important day. It’s an inflection point in how we provide for public safety in the State of California,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I’m proud to stand with my former colleagues and Governor Newsom to embark on a new chapter in our shared fight to infuse our criminal justice system with more trust, transparency, and accountability. By building trust today, we are ensuring officer and community safety for tomorrow. Trust generates safety and safety generates trust. It will take sustained work by all of us to get the job done, but this is a monumental step forward on the path toward justice.”
The California Police Chiefs Association opposed at least one of the measures, Senate Bill 2, saying on its website that it “would eliminate certain immunity provisions for peace officers and custodial officers, or public entities employing peace officers or custodial officers sued under the act.”
The Times added that over 36 groups that represented police officers were against the measure.
“SB 2 merely requires that the individual officer ‘engaged’ in serious misconduct — not that they were found guilty, terminated, or even disciplined,” the chiefs reportedly said in a letter to lawmakers.
Another group was against Assembly Bill 89, which the governor signed in order to make the minimum age requirement higher for recruits wanting to be police officers. It also “calls for state colleges to provide a modern policing degree program for new officers by 2025,” the Times noted.
The Peace Officers’ Research Association of California was against the measure, reportedly saying that new requirements should be “mindful of disadvantaged individuals who desire a career in law enforcement” and should be done in phases.
Another bill, AB 26, addresses other officers on the scene of an incident and pushes for them to intervene in situations or face potential punishment.
The California Association of Highway Patrolmen was against the measure, reportedly saying in a letter to legislators that authorities who get to a scene late might not have all of the facts to know whether or not to get involved.
“The arriving officer may not know that the suspect has a weapon, or has potentially used, or attempted to use, that weapon on the officers prior to their arrival on the scene,” the highway patrol group said. “Without the arriving officer having full knowledge of the situation, that officer’s intercedence could be dangerous to both the officers and the public.”
The measures appeared to be put forward as a response to the death of George Floyd, who died following an encounter with Minneapolis police officers last year.