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Proposed legislation would require that peace officers in California have a college degree

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Posted at 5:48 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 21:19:24-05

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KERO) — An assemblyman is hoping a new proposal requiring potential peace officers to have a college degree will help reduce the number of excessive force cases.

According to ABC7, the legislation would increase the minimum standards for all new peace officers in California, requiring that they either be 25-years-old or have a bachelor's degree.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer of the 59th Assembly District near Los Angeles believes that peace officers should have more than just basic skills.

"Studies have shown that a college education reduces the likelihood of using excessive force significantly," said Jones-Sawyer. "We should have the best and the brightest who carry a gun and have to make life and death decisions."

The proposal has some support from a major police group.

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya agrees that statistics show an educated officer has less use of force incidents, and when force is used, it's at a lower level. But he's concerned the proposed legislation could eliminate candidates who don't have the same access to a four-year college degree, as well as minority groups and those who live in under-served communities.

"In theory, we agree it's a good idea," said Tony Montoya, SFPOA President. "We don't want to limit people from being able to apply simply because they lack the resources to get a college degree, or simply don't meet the minimum age requirement," said Montoya.

On Monday 23ABC sat down with Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and he talked about this.

"I just saw today where some lawyers are introducing legislation that would require a law enforcement officer to be 25 and have a B.A. Degree. I don't know where we will get those people in Kern County. Hiring them young there's good and bad in that. They are given 6 months of training at the end of the day you cant get inside of somebody's head."