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Last Updated on September 19, 2022 by BVN

Prince James Story |

It’s been nearly a year since California became the 47th state to pass a bill that will bring more accountability to law enforcement across the state and establish a peace officer decertification process, something important to justice advocates across the inland region and around the state.  

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 2 (SB2) on September 30, 2021, to ensure that peace officers are not abusing their authority and to hold them accountable.

CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 2 into law on September 30, 2021 (gov.ca.gov).

“California has one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the nation,” said Senator Steven Bradford in a press release regarding Gov. Newsom signing Senate Bill 2. “But for too long, problematic officers that commit heinous acts in one department are either not held accountable and continue to be a problem for that community, or are punished, but able to find employment in another department. This rinse and repeat style of accountability has led to the continuous erosion of community trust.”

SB2 also expanded the list of categories that will disqualify a person from becoming a peace officer. 

Importantly, the bill further dictates that Governor Newsom has until Jan. 1, 2023, to establish a Peace Officer Standards Accountability Advisory Board, which will consist of nine members that will make recommendations on the decertification of a police officer. 

“California has one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the nation. But for too long, problematic officers that commit heinous acts in one department are either not held accountable and continue to be a problem for that community, or are punished, but able to find employment in another department. This rinse and repeat style of accountability has led to the continuous erosion of community trust,” said Senator Steven Bradford in a press release in September 2021.  (source: sd35.ca.gov).

SB2 states, “​​The primary responsibilities of the division [advisory board] shall be to review investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies or any other investigative authority and to conduct additional investigations, as necessary, into serious misconduct that may provide grounds for suspension or revocation of a peace officer’s certification, present findings and recommendations to the board and commission, and bring proceedings seeking the suspension or revocation of certification of peace officers as directed by the board and commission pursuant to this chapter.”

The board’s makeup would consist of:

One peace officer or former peace officer with experience at a command rank. 

One peace officer or former peace officer with experience at a management rank in internal investigations or disciplinary proceedings of police officers.

Two members of the community who have substantial experience working at nonprofit or academic institutions on issues related to police accountability. 

Two members of the community who have substantial experience working at community-based organizations on issues related to police accountability. 

Two community members, particularly individuals who have been subject to the wrongful use of force likely to cause death or serious bodily injury by a peace officer or who are surviving family members of a person killed by the wrongful use of deadly force by a peace officer.

One member shall be an attorney with substantial professional experience involving oversight of police officers.

Status of board member selections and appointments

Currently, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Buchen is the only person who has been appointed to the board. The Senate Rules Committee announced her appointment to the board on March 2. 

She will fill one of the spots under the category of community member who  is part of a community-based organization who has experience with working with police accountability. 

“Lizzie Buchen will bring her years of experience working to reduce incarceration and improve police accountability to the advisory board,” Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins said in a press release. “Last year, Senator Bradford and I authored Senate Bill 2 to ensure that the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training can consider new voices as it assesses cases of potential peace officer misconduct. Lizzie’s expertise in working with communities on these issues will serve the Commission well as the new board performs this important oversight.”

Buchen has worked for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

She worked as a Statewide advocacy and communications coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget. 

She spent five years working for the ACLU of Northern California, three years as a legislative advocate, and two years as the Criminal Justice Director.

“Lizzie Buchen will bring her years of experience working to reduce incarceration and improve police accountability to the advisory board,” said CA Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins in a press release. (File photo: source:sd39.senate.ca.gov/).

Buchen now provides consulting services which focus on social justice policy and advocacy. 

The initial members of the board term lengths will be slightly different from their successors; three members will be appointed for a one-year term, three members will serve a two-year term, and three members will serve a three-year term.

For their successors, each member will serve a three-year term, and no one shall serve more than two terms consecutively. 

In late August the Black Voice News reached out to Governor Newsom’s press office by email for a status regarding progress on the selection of members to fill the nine-member advisory board since only Buchman has been appointed to date and the January 1, 2023 deadline is rapidly approaching.

They responded, “The Governor’s Office expects to announce appointments by the time the Advisory Board is established and begins meeting pursuant to the provisions of SB 2. Interested parties are encouraged to complete the appointment application form found online at www.gov.ca.gov/appointments .”

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Prince James Story

Report for America Corps member and Black Voice News Climate and Environmental Justice reporter, Prince James Story was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an intersectional journalist with experience covering news and sports across numerous mediums. Story aims to inform the public of social inequities and discriminatory practices while amplifying the voices of those in the communities harmed. Story earned his master’s degree in Sports Journalism from Arizona State University-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He earned a B.A. in Mass Communication and a B.A. in African American studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Contact Prince James with tips, comments, or concerns at Princejames@blackvoicenews.com or via Twitter @PrinceJStory.