by Ed Lyon
Until recently, California was one of only four states in the union that had no mechanism to decertify bad cops. Whenever a cop was fired for misconduct there always seemed to be another police department ready and willing to hire the miscreant.
Law enforcement unions consisting of those representing police as well as prison guards have been generous donors to state and local level politicians for decades. As such, lawmakers have bent over forward and backward to please that constituent block in exchange for their endorsement as a supporter of law and order rather than receiving the dreaded soft on crime label.
As a result, attorneys, doctors, and other professionals as well as many tradespeople were held to a high standard that cops were able to elude until the 2021 legislature evened the playing field. A decertified cop can no longer hop jobs from one department to another, thanks to the dogged efforts of Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a former State Assembly member and current state Senator Steven Bradford.
Societal pressures helped in large part. Three short years ago, small time crook Stephan Clark was killed in a hail of gunfire from police officers. They claimed to have been under the belief Clark had a gun. The local prosecutors covered for the cops, declaring the shooting was lawful.
Huge protests demanded reform over this shooting that occurred only two blocks from the state’s capitol. The protests gained momentum when Minnesota cop Derek Chauvin brazenly killed George Floyd.
The newly created commission, Peace Officer Standards and Training (“POST”), has the ability to decertify bad cops, so they will no longer get paid to abuse the citizenry they are supposed to protect. But before POST can decertify a cop, an advisory board must first recommend it, and then it takes a two-thirds vote by the commission to actually decertify the bad cop.
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