AB 89 – Raises Minimum Age For Peace Officers; Launches Development Of A Community College Degree In Modern Policing

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Nov 03, 2021

Assembly Bill 89, also titled the Peace Officers Education and Age Conditions for Employment (PEACE) Act, was enacted to implement reforms to minimize the use of deadly force, based on legislative findings derived from research on early-adulthood cognitive development, and the effect of education on peace officers’ work performance. Most significantly, AB 89 raises the minimum age of employment for most types of state and local peace officers from 18 to 21. The increased minimum age does not apply to anyone who is already employed as a peace officer or enrolled in a basic police academy as of December 31, 2021. The bill also does not apply to certain types of specialized peace officers, such as park rangers, security officers, and some correctional officers.

In addition, the bill directs the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, with the advice of the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and other stakeholders, to develop a “modern policing degree” program focusing on courses such as psychology, communications, history, ethnic studies, law, and other courses determined to develop critical thinking and emotional intelligence. The bill requires the Chancellor to submit a report to the Legislature by June 1, 2023 with recommendations on the adoption of such a program.

Curiously, the bill directs POST to adopt a new minimum educational requirement for peace officers within two years after the Chancellor’s report, but, due to an apparent legislative drafting error, it is not clear that POST has statutory authority to do so. Based on the bill’s drafting history, it appears the Legislature’s intent is to eventually require all new peace officers to have at least either a bachelor’s degree or the newly-developed modern policing degree. Since the bill gives POST until 2025 to adopt this requirement, it is likely there will be some clean-up legislation clarifying this aspect of the bill.

(AB 89 adds Section 1031.4 to the Government Code, and adds Section 13511.1 to the Penal Code.)

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