45 States Keep Bad Cops Who Get Fired from Being Rehired -- Why Isn't California One of Them?
California is one of only five states without a law to track, monitor and prohibit police departments from hiring officers who have been dismissed for misconduct in other law enforcement jurisdictions.
For nearly four decades, Roger Goldman, a St. Louis attorney and law professor, has been on a mission to help create a national database of decertified police officers to prevent truly bad cops from being rehired elsewhere. The nation's foremost legal expert in this area, Professor Goldman has been in high demand amid the fallout from the killing of George Floyd, for his knowledge about police licensing and decertification laws across the country.
In between interviews with the New York Times and the New Yorker, he took time out on Thursday for a conversation with old friend Hap Freund, the executive producer of Newsmakers TV, about why California lacks legislation that 45 other states have passed, which states have strong and weak decertification laws and how a national data base and legislation would help protect citizens and police departments.
"We would do this for any other profession," he told Newsmakers. "If we do it for cosmetologists, we should do it for police officers."
The political power of police unions in California accounts for much of the reason the state does not have a decertification process, Goldman said, but a comprehensive bill to establish such a system was introduced last week in Sacramento, and the opposition of the unions may be waning amid the nationwide protests about police misconduct.
Goldman became interested in this field when he learned about a St. Louis police officer who terrorized suspects by making them play Russian Roulette. His crusade got a tragic boost in 2014 when Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, and again more recently with the murder of Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
You can watch our entire interview with Roger Goldman by clicking below, and the podcast version is here.
(Full disclosure: Hap Freund is one of 14 members of Santa Barbara’s Volunteers in Policing (VIP) program).