CA Measure to ‘Decertify’ Law Enforcement Officers for Serious Misconduct Passes Another Committee Test in the Assembly

Ashley Monterrosa (left) and Michelle Monterrosa (right) speak last June right after the shooting

By The Vanguard Staff

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Assembly Public Safety Committee approved a measure here Wednesday that would “decertify” law enforcement officers who engage in serious misconduct and limit their immunity if sued in civil court.

Senate Bill 2, known as the Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act, passed 6-2 and moved to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 2, a new incarnation of last year’s SB 731, 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.

“Every person deserves to feel safe in their community,” said Ellie Virrueta, a member of the Let Us Live coalition and the CA S.T.O.P. Coalition.

“Yet, police officers are enabled to abuse their power and terrorize Black and Brown communities because there is no process to take them off the streets when they engage in misconduct. We cannot be safe in our communities as long as officers who harm us remain on our streets. California legislators did the right thing by voting to move SB 2 forward.”

According to the coalition, California is one of only four states that does not have a process to decertify police officers who engage in serious misconduct, including murder.

The coalition has charged this has “allowed cops who abuse their power to bounce from one police department to another and remain on our streets doing harm to our communities without consequence,” quoting a Yale study that documented “wandering officers” who move from one agency to the next are “significantly more likely than officers who have never been fired to incur complaints of serious misconduct.”

Proponents say SB 2 will create a multilayer system of due process protection fair to officers and ensures that a police badge can no longer serve as a shield for accountability by permanently removing officers who engage in serious misconduct from active duty.

The six-step process involves a community advisory board that while predominantly led by people with law enforcement experience also includes academics, non-profit representatives, and two members who have been impacted by police violence.

“This incorporation of community voice into the process is designed to ensure public trust in the process. As was recently seen in Washington State, making sure community representation is robust at the outset, will avoid California having to revisit the law 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,” said the coalition.

“My family is celebrating this step forward, but the work is not done,” said Michelle Monterrosa, sister of Sean Monterrosa who was killed by a Vallejo police officer last year. “For far too long, California has needed a system that holds police officers accountable for their actions. This bill is necessary to protect the safety of communities, and we will not let up the pressure until this bill is passed and signed into law because police who harm us do not belong on our streets.”

“SB 2 is common sense legislation that will protect our communities and make us all safer,” said Fouzia Almarou, mother of Kenneth Ross, Jr, who was killed by police in 2018. “We can never get true justice for our loved ones who were stolen by police, but we can put in place a system that ensures no other family experiences the pain we do. The first step is passing SB 2 and removing police who harm communities from our streets.”

Bill proponents point to the killing of Ross as a good example of the good that SB 2 do.

Because, the coalition said, Sgt. Michael Robbins – the police officer who shot and killed Kenneth Ross – joined the Gardena Police Department, he had already shot three other civilians while a member of another Southern California police department.

“Had Robbins been decertified, Kenneth Ross, Jr. might be alive today,” argued the coalition.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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