SB 2, the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021, Approved by Legislature
SACRAMENTO – Today, Senate Bill 2, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), was approved 28-9 during a final concurrence vote on the Senate Floor. Also known as the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021, SB 2 aims to increase accountability for law enforcement officers that commit serious misconduct and illegally violate a person’s civil rights.
“This is a major victory for advocates of public safety,” said Senator Bradford. “California and the nation as a whole has experienced tragedy after tragedy where consequences for egregious abuses of power went unpunished and cries for accountability went unanswered— eroding public trust in law enforcement. This bill is the first of its kind in California and we finally join the 46 other states with processes for the decertification of bad officers. SB 2 establishes a fair and balanced way to hold officers who break the public trust accountable for their actions and not simply move to a new department. This could not have been achieved without the support of many legislators, community organizations, families, and entertainers who advocated non-stop for accountability in our policing system.”
“We made a commitment to the people of California that we would continue to work on police reform, and we held true that promise in getting SB 2 over the finish line,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins. “This bill is about coming together to root out and remove systemic racism that lurks within our institutions, preventing more violence against people of color, and increasing safety and equality for all who call California home – that work continues. I’m appreciative to my colleague, Senator Steven Bradford, for his work and leadership on this bill, and to all of the stakeholders and organizations who came together to find a solution that will set a new process for police accountability. Our work will not end with this bill’s passage – and we won’t rest until the system changes.”
SB 2 creates a statewide decertification process to revoke the certification of a peace officer following the conviction of serious crimes or termination from employment due to misconduct. Additionally, SB 2 will strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act to prevent law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations. For example, recently, two former Torrance city police officers were charged with conspiracy and vandalism. These officers left the department last year, but without a strong decertification process they will be able to be hired by another department and continue their racist and hateful misconduct. This is simply one of numerous instances where a lack of accountability will lead to future abuses.
“SB 2 is the final product of two years of discussions, negotiations, and compromise,” continued Senator Bradford. “The bill will create a strong and effective method for California to remove bad officers in a fair and reasonable manner. Police have one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. A decertification system puts California back on track to restoring communities’ faith in men and women of uniform who do their job well.”
SB 2 is a priority of the CA Legislative Black Caucus and is sponsored by a coalition of community organizations including: Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU California Action, Anti-Police-Terror Project, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, California Families United 4 Justice, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, PolicyLink, STOP Coalition, and Youth Justice Coalition.
“I have been fighting in the name of my son, Kenneth Ross, Jr., since Sergeant Michael Robbins stole his life on April 11, 2018. Today’s vote is proof that when we fight, we win,” said Fouzia Almarou. “No mother should have to live with the kind of pain that I live with every day. This Act gives us the ability to decertify cops who kill and abuse our people. With this Act, my son's spirit lives on and protects our communities from police who bring harm.”
SB 2 is now headed to Governor Newsom’s desk, where he has until October 10 to sign the bill.
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Senator Bradford is Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and represents the Los Angeles County communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Torrance, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington.