Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law targeting gangs and cliques that form within law enforcement departments.
The bill states that law enforcement gangs had been “identified” leading up to this bill and individuals within those groups may now be disciplined or even terminated.
“Law enforcement gangs have been identified within California law enforcement agencies, undermining California’s movement to enhance professional standards of policing throughout the state,” The bill reads. “Law enforcement gangs have been recognized by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department as damaging to the trust and reputation of law enforcement throughout California.”
The bill states that any law enforcement groups who identify themselves through symbols such as matching tattoos and “violate the law or fundamental principles of professional policing” may be subject to the disciplinary measures.
L.A. Sheriff Villanueva said he supported the state bill and it aligns with policy he implemented in February after deputies came out and made the public aware of the cliques within the LASD.
“I am proud to be a sponsor of this legislation, which is based on the current Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department policy I implemented in February of this year,” Villanueva said in a statement. “Our current Department policy is consistent with this new law and is already being enforced. This law will serve to foster organizational change and hold employees to a higher standard of conduct. We must remain hyper vigilant that benign subgroups do not devolve into cliques that may dishonor the badge.”
The deputy gangs were accused of getting such tattoos and performing initiation practices that may have caused harm to civilians.
After the reports of gangs within the LASD, activists went on the offensive, launching a “Google LASD gangs” social media campaign that has continued almost daily and has even been posted in signs throughout the city of Los Angeles.
Cerise Castle at Knock L.A. also created a lists of alleged deputies associated with internal gangs for the public to view.
Within the slew of law enforcement-related bills signed by Newsom on Sept. 30, was SB 2, which allows officers to be decertified for excessive force, sexual assault, demonstration of bias, or dishonesty. It would also prevent officers from changing departments if convicted for misconduct.
The bill was known as the “Kenneth Ross Jr. Initiaive,” named after a 25-year-old from Gardena who was shot and killed after fleeing from police. The shooting was deemed lawful, but Assemblyman Steven Bradford of Gardena, who presented the bill, accused the officer of “questionable” shootings in Orange County, before being transferred to Gardena.
“When I heard about this shooting I did not know who this officer was and the reason why is because he transferred from Orange County after being involved in three questionable shootings there,” Bradford said at the bill signing ceremony.
SB 2 makes California the 47th state allowed to decertify an officer for misconduct.
“Today marks another step toward healing and justice for all,” Newsom said on Sept. 30. “Too many lives have been lost due to racial profiling and excessive use of force. We cannot change what is past, but we can build accountability, root out racial injustice and fight systemic racism. We are all indebted to the families who have persevered through their grief to continue this fight and work toward a more just future.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly labeled Knock L.A. as an activist organization.
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