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Gov. Newsom signs police reforms opposed by unions, including taking away badges for racial bias


California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a series of police reform bills which include upping the minimum age to become a cop from 18 to 21 and creating a system where citizens can strip badges from bad cops.

The governor introduced eight new measures Thursday which he said will hold law enforcement to account in the state and tackle the mistrust between police and communities. 

Multiple police unions have spoken out against one measure, which will see an oversight board of citizens created, and which they say could exert undue influence and power over officers.  

The sweeping reforms also include restricting use of force practices that have resulted in death and injury, limiting the use of rubber bullets on protesters and require officers to report their colleagues for excessive force. 

Newsom, who recently survived a recall election in the state, signed the reforms into law at an event joined by lawmakers and the families of two men who died during arrests in the state. 

However, the governor doesn’t have support for some of the measures from groups representing members of law enforcement. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a series of police reform bills which include upping the minimum age from 18 to 21 and creating a system where citizens can strip badges from bad cops. Newsom signing the bills into force Thursday 

California’s new police reform bills: 

AB 26: Cops are required to step in and immediately report excessive force by another officer  

AB 89: Minimum age to become a police officer raised from 18 to 21 and education requirements enhanced

AB 490: Ban on technique and transport methods that create risk of positional asphyxia 

SB 16: Increases transparency of cop misconduct records 

SB 2: Creates system to permanently strip cops of badges for misconduct  

AB 48: Limits use of rubber bullets at protests  

AB 481: Law enforcement agencies must seek approval from local governing bodies when buying surplus military equipment  

AB 958: Bans cops from creating law enforcement ‘gangs’ similar to criminal street gangs 

More than three dozen groups have opposed one particular bill for police accountability, reported the Los Angeles Times

Senate Bill 2 allows for a system to be created to decertify cops for misconduct and prevent them from simply transferring to another law enforcement agency in the state.

Under the bill, an advisory panel mainly made up of citizens appointed by the governor have the power to strip badges from cops for use of excessive force or racial bias.  

Democratic State Senator Steven Bradford said allowing badges to be permanently stripped from cops will end ‘the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of police misconduct.’

‘This bill is not just about holding bad officers accountable for their misconduct,’ he said. 

‘It’s also about rebuilding trust between our communities and law enforcement.’ 

California was one of only four US states that have so far introduced a system such as this, after calls mounted nationwide for an end to police brutality and institutionalized racism the wake of George Floyd’s murder. 

The California Police Chiefs Association sent a letter to lawmakers pushing back against the bill arguing the panel could be biased and not have law enforcement experience.

‘SB 2 merely requires that the individual officer ‘engaged’ in serious misconduct — not that they were found guilty, terminated, or even disciplined,’ the union argued.

This law comes 18 years after lawmakers stripped away the power to decertify officers from a state police standards commission.

Kenneth Ross Jr. was shot dead by a cop in 2018

Angelo Quinto died after a cop pressed a knee to his neck

The families of Kenneth Ross Jr. (left) and Angelo Quinto (right) were at the bill signing. Ross was shot dead by a cop in 2018 while Quinto died after a cop pressed a knee to his neck

That left it to local agencies to decide if officers should be fired, but critics said they could often simply get a job in a different department. 

A second bill has also been opposed by the Peace Officers’ Research Association of California, which represents 77,000 public safety officers across California. 

The bill – Assembly Bill 89 – raises the minimum age for police officer recruits from 18 to 21 years old and calls for a modern policing education program to be introduced by 2025.

The association criticized the reform saying such standards should be ‘mindful of disadvantaged individuals who desire a career in law enforcement.’ 

Newsom hailed the sweeping reforms as something ‘to be proud of’ but admitted the state was slow off the mark.

‘I’m here as governor of California mindful that we’re in a juxtaposition of being a leader on police reform and a lagger on police reform,’ Newsom said during the event. 

‘We have a lot to be proud of but there’s areas where we have nothing to brag about.’  

Attorney General Rob Bonta also spoke at the event, welcoming the reforms as ‘concrete solutions’ to the ‘crisis of trust’ in America. 

‘We are in a crisis of trust when it comes to law enforcement right now, across the state, across the nation,’ he said.

‘We’re delivering concrete solutions from banning dangerous holds that lead to asphyxia to multiple other mechanisms that improve accountability and oversight and transparency.’

Attorney General Rob Bonta (pictured in June) also spoke at the event, welcoming the reforms as 'concrete solutions' to the 'crisis of trust' in America

Attorney General Rob Bonta (pictured in June) also spoke at the event, welcoming the reforms as ‘concrete solutions’ to the ‘crisis of trust’ in America 

The event was held at Rowley Gym in Gardena park where black man Kenneth Ross Jr. was shot dead by a cop in 2018.

The officer who shot him was cleared of wrongdoing, but had previously been involved in three other shootings.

Ross’ mother Fouzia Almarou spoke at the event, saying she hopes the new laws will prevent other people of color dying at the hands of law enforcement. 

Supporters of the bill also gathered at the scene, chanting: ‘Say his name.’  

Ross’ mom was also joined by Sandra Quinto Collins, the mother of Angelo Quinto, who died after a San Francisco Bay Area officer pressed a knee to his neck during a mental health crisis just before Christmas last year.

Collins burst into tears and was hugged by Newsom while his sister described the use of force on her brother as ‘absolutely excessive and unnecessary.’  

The bills were signed more than a year after black man Floyd was murdered by a white cop who knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest over a $20 counterfeit bill.

Floyd’s death sparked calls for police reform nationwide. 



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