'Best and brightest': Proposal seeks increased requirements to become a CA peace officer

The new proposed legislation would require that new peace officers in California be 25-years-old or have a bachelor's degree.
A California assemblyman wants to change who can be a police officer in an effort to reduce excessive force incidents.

New proposed legislation would increase the minimum standards for all new peace officers in California, requiring that they either be 25-years-old or have a bachelor's degree.

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Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduced the legislation.

"Studies have shown that a college education reduces the likelihood of using excessive force significantly," said Jones-Sawyer.

Jones-Sawyer says our police forces should have more than basic skills.

"We should have the best and the brightest who carry a gun and have to make life and death decisions," Jones-Sawyer continued.

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A mother of three describes the fear she felt and the injuries she suffered, at the hands of a San Jose police officer, who now faces a criminal charge of excessive force.



San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya agrees that statistics show an educated officer has less use of force incidents, and when force is used, it's at a lower level.

"In theory we agree it's a good idea," said Tony Montoya, SFPOA President.

But he's concerned the proposed legislation could eliminate candidates who don't have the same access to a four-year college degree, as well as minority groups and those who live in under served communities.

"We don't want to limit people from being able to apply simply because they lack the resources to get a college degree, or simply don't meet the minimum age requirement," said Montoya.

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"I would submit to them that maybe they need to get up off their butts, go to historically Black colleges where thousands of African Americans are graduating every year, and go and seek them," said Jones-Sawyer.

Montoya says SFPD recruits at all colleges nationwide, but that overall, recruiting numbers are down.

"We've been having a problem with our recruiting and retention for quite a while now," said Montoya.

"We should actively recruit the best and if it results in fewer I'll tell you one thing we'll probably have better which will probably offset the number of bad cops we could get because we just went out and scraped the bottom of the barrel," said Jones-Sawyer.

Jones-Sawyer believes if we can curb the number of first time instances of excessive force, we'll see a larger decrease with fewer repeat offenses later by those same officers.
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