Demands for police accountability have been loud for decades, especially in California where the Los Angeles Police Department has a notorious history of corruption and violence, but reached a fever pitch this year following the George Floyd protests. Sadly, a measure introduced to end the careers of bad cops in The Golden State, titled the Bradford Bill, has been thwarted by police unions.
According to the Associated Press, “The legislation would have created a way to permanently strip badges from officers who commit serious misconduct.” However, “Law enforcement groups successfully argued that the proposed system would be biased and lack basic due process protections.”
The main complaint of the bill, according to AP, “was the makeup of a proposed nine-member disciplinary panel to consider if officers’ conduct is enough to end their careers. Six of the nine members would be required to have backgrounds opposing police misconduct, while the remaining three would represent law enforcement.”
California governor Gavin Newsom attempted to intervene to support passing of the legislation, however, the measure died without a vote before the legislative session ended early on Tuesday (September 1).
Democratic Sen. Steven Bradford, who submitted the bill, said, “To ignore the thousands of voices calling for meaningful police reform is insulting. Today, Californians were once again let down by those who were meant to represent them.”
Despite it having public support from celebrities including Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Robert De Niro and Chelsea Handler, the influence of the police union was able to kill the bill.
Tom Saggau, a spokesman for police unions in Los Angeles and San Francisco, said law enforcement organizations “offered alternative wording” for the bill that “would have made it more palatable, more reasonable.”
Senator Bradford said that, ultimately, the legislators would not agree to all of the changes proposed by the unions, and Governor Newsom wasn’t able to help broker a deal. “Rejecting some compromise language from the governor, but accepting 40 amendments that drove a wedge further with law enforcement, we think that’s what derailed the measure,” he said.
The Associated Press claims the back and forth was “lobbyists and lawmakers mostly isolated by the coronavirus pandemic, it became a battle of phone calls, colorful graphics and Instagram posts from law enforcement organizations to counter celebrity tweets.”
News of the bill being shut down comes just days after Dijon Kizzee was fatally shot by police on August 31 after he was stopped while riding his bicycle “for a vehicle code violation.” The 29-year-old reportedly ran away and when deputies reached him, Kizee allegedly punched one of them in the face. Police claim they fired shots when they saw a gun.
Photo by Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images