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California State Assembly Passes Police Decertification

With a 46-18 vote, Senate Bill 2 moves back to the Senate for a concurrence vote then on to the Governor’s Desk for signature.  

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Assembly voted to pass Senate Bill 2 (SB 2), the Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act of 2021, by a vote of 46-18. The bill, which will create a process to decertify police officers who engage in serious misconduct, now goes back to the Senate for a concurrence vote on amendments and then will proceed to the Governor’s desk for signature. SB 2 is a reintroduction of last year’s Senate Bill 731 and is authored by State Senator Steve Bradford and co-sponsored by the Let Us Live Coalition – a coalition of families impacted by police violence and community, legal and advocacy organizations. 

“My son, Kenneth Ross Jr., was stolen from me, from his son and from his family by a cop that already shot three other people. SB 2 was named in his honor because no mother should have to live with the kind of pain that I live with every day,” said Fouzia Almarou, mother of Kenneth Ross, Jr. who was killed by police in 2018. “I believe cops who shoot people shouldn’t be in our communities, and this bill gives us the ability to decertify cops when they abuse their power to harm us. Today’s vote helps my son’s legacy to live on and helps to protect my other children, my grandson and our community from police who harm our communities.” 

The floor vote puts California one step closer to joining the 46 other states across the nation that already have systems to decertify police officers who engage in serious misconduct, including excessive force, sexual misconduct and dishonesty. With its passage, SB 2 will create a multilayer system of due process protection that ensures officers who engage in serious misconduct can be taken off our streets permanently where they can do no more harm.

“SB 2 is a detailed and fair approach that fills a major gap in California’s public safety law,” said Senator Bradford. “Through many long discussions with stakeholders and law enforcement we have arrived at a final version of the bill that affords ample due process for officers and necessary community representation. California is often a national trendsetter, but when it comes to the decertification of bad officers we are woefully behind. So much so that we are one of only four remaining states without a decertification process. This bill ensures that officers who break the public trust are held accountable for their actions and not allowed to simply move to another department. I’m proud to have worked with the Let Us Live Coalition to get this passed in the name of Kenneth Ross Jr, and the many families who have had their family members taken by cops who have abused their power.”  

With the bill’s passage, the Let Us Live Coalition will be focused on ensuring that community representation is a key component of the bill’s decertification process. The final amendments to this bill have the potential to cede too much power to a predominantly law enforcement structure. The voice of the community will continue to be heard as the coalition works to implement an effective system of decertification within POST and fight for the representation of family members on the advisory panel. For too long, members of law enforcement have been seen as the experts on public safety. Fortunately, SB 2 includes a community advisory panel that will ensure communities are included in the process to hold police accountable, which will promote public trust in the decertification process and lead to a more effective system. As was recently seen in Washington State, making sure community representation is robust at the outset will prevent the need for California to revisit this issue in later years. SB 2 also ensures that officers no longer have absolute immunity protections for injuring people who are incarcerated, refusing to provide medical care and planting evidence.

“California has always had an obligation to keep communities safe, but for too long has neglected its responsibility to protect us from cops who come into our communities and cause harm,” said Michelle Monterossa, sister of Sean Monterossa who was killed by a Vallejo police officer last year. “While SB 2 can’t give my brother true justice, it is a moment for celebration because this bill will finally give California the power to take cops who engage in racist, abusive and often deadly acts of violence against our people off the streets.”

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About the Let Us Live Coalition 

The Let Us Live Coalition is led by families whose loved ones have been killed by law enforcement, community and advocacy organizations. Devastated by the lack of accountability and prosecution in use of force cases, we are demanding change – in the streets, in the courts, in the media, and now in the State Capitol.

The Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act Co-Sponsoring organizations include Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU California Action, Anti Police-Terror Project, Black Lives Matter CA, California Families United 4 Justice, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, PolicyLink, STOP Coalition, and Youth Justice Coalition.

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