Employment-Related, Public Safety Bills at A Glance: Peace Officer Qualifications (SB 731 & AB 846)

CATEGORY: Law Enforcement Briefing Room
CLIENT TYPE: Public Safety
DATE: Aug 07, 2020

SB 731  (Bradford D)  Adds new criteria for disqualifying persons from being employed as peace officers; gives POST new duties to issue and revoke POST certificates; allows CA DOJ to revoke POST certificates; requires law enforcement agencies to inform POST of any form of peace officer separation and to make related disclosures to POST; and gives POST new responsibilities on revocations of certificates.

This bill would disqualify a person from being employed as a peace officer if that person has been convicted of, or has been adjudicated in an administrative, military, or civil judicial process as having committed, a violation of certain specified crimes against public justice, including the falsification of records, bribery, or perjury.

The bill would also disqualify any person who:  has been issued a POST certificate and had that certificate revoked by POST; has voluntarily surrendered the certificate; or has been denied issuance of a certificate. The bill would require a law enforcement agency employing peace officers to employ only individuals with a current, valid certification or pending certification.

This bill would require POST to issue a certificate, as specified, to any person employed as a peace officer who does not otherwise possess a certificate. This bill would declare certificates awarded by POST to be property of POST and would authorize POST to revoke a certificate on specified grounds, including: the use of excessive force; sexual assault; certain types of dishonesty; making a false arrest; failing to intercede as to excessive force; demonstrating bias against a person of a protected status; having three or more complaints against them within three years related to particular conduct; having three or more civil judgements in three years; or failing to cooperate with a POST investigation.

The bill would grant POST the power to investigate and determine the fitness of any person to serve as a peace officer. The bill would require POST to refer grounds for decertification to the Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the Department of Justice for investigation, which would then determine whether the certification should be denied or revoked, as specified. If a certificate holder or applicant provides notice to POST of the holder’s or applicant’s intent to contest the revocation or denial, the bill would require the Civil Rights Enforcement Section to file a petition with the Office of Administrative Hearings. 

This bill would require law enforcement agencies to inform POST of various incidents involving peace officers related to appointment or any form of separation of employment that could require the revocation of POST certification.  The bill would require an affidavit-of-separation to be signed under penalty of perjury.

This bill would require POST to report annually on number of certifications and types of actions leading to revocation of certification.

AB 846   (Burke D)   Requires that psychological exam must also find peace officers to be free from protected- status bias;  requires law enforcement agency review and amend peace officer job descriptions to emphasize community-based policing.

Current law requires peace officers to meet specified minimum standards, including, among other requirements, that peace officers be evaluated by a physician and surgeon or psychologist and found to be free from any physical, emotional, or mental condition that might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer. This bill would require that evaluation to include bias against race or ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.  This bill would also require law enforcement agencies that employ peace officers to review the job description that is used in the recruitment and hiring of those peace officers and make changes that emphasize community-based policing, familiarization between law enforcement and community residents, and collaborative problem solving, while de-emphasizing the paramilitary aspects of the job.