California police reform advocates 'disappointed' by failure of bill to decertify 'bad cops'

SB731 would have allowed police officers found to have committed serious misconduct to be stripped of their badges.

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ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- With momentum following the recent calls for police reform, lawmakers passed a series of police reform bills Monday night that are now on their way to Governor Newsom's desk.

Activists say these bills are not enough, and are outraged that the one bill they believe had the biggest chance of true reform, SB731, was not even put up for a vote by the legislature.

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"I am really disappointed about the police transparency bill that did not pass," James Burch, the policy director at the Oakland-based Anti-Police Terror Network said. "This is not a radical bill. This was really low hanging fruit for the legislature."

SB731 would have allowed police officers found to have committed serious misconduct to be stripped of their badges. California is one of five states without a way to decertify bad-acting cops.

"And that leads us subject to a whole host of problems," Burch said. "There are officers who in lieu of termination will resign and then go take up at another law enforcement division somewhere else."

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Peace Officers Research Association of California, a statewide federation of police unions, opposed the bill and is happy to see it didn't pass.

In a statement to ABC7 News, President Brian Marvel said, "PORAC supports the spirit and intent of Bradford's SB 731 -- we cannot allow officers who demonstrate gross misconduct to continue to be members of the our law enforcement community; their licenses must be revoked."

"However," he continued, "SB 731 reached far beyond the police licensing process and included policies that would potentially penalize even the most respectful officers for placing themselves in harm's way to keep our families safe."

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Other police reform bills did pass the legislature, including one bill that would ban police officers from using choke holds and another that would require the state Attorney General to investigate every time police kill an unarmed civilian.

It's not enough for Burch, who believes the legislature should have also put the desertification bill up for a vote.

"If you're not going to vote for a bill like this at a time like this when you're willing to take a knee outside the Capitol," he said, "We need to know your names. We need to stand up and say, 'I'm not voting for this bill for this reason.'"

ABC7 News reached out to Speaker Anthony Rendon for comment and have not heard back.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.