- Richard Garcia
(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer’s (D-South Los Angeles) AB 89, the Peace Officer Education and Age Conditions for Employment (PEACE) Act has passed in the Senate Public Safety Committee with bipartisan support. The legislation requires new peace officer recruits be a minimum of 21 years of age and obtain a newly developed associate degree in modern policing, or a bachelor’s degree in the discipline of their choosing by January 1, 2025.
The PEACE Act requires the development of an associate degree in modern policing, which will include courses in psychology, communications, history, ethnic studies, and those in critical thinking and emotional intelligence by a comprehensive stakeholder group. The development of this comprehensive degree will enhance policing to align with the elevated duties and roles served in diverse communities.
“With one of the best, tuition-free community college systems in the nation, this modern policing associate degree will become an accessible option for California’s diverse student population looking towards a career in law enforcement,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “In earning this degree, incoming officers will be equipped with the skills necessary to de-escalate situations, while also ensuring they develop a critical understanding of the history of communities of various backgrounds.”
Improving conditions for employment will strengthen community trust in law enforcement and ensure public safety, especially for community members of color who are disproportionately affected by excessive use of force. By requiring new peace officer candidates to be more mature and better educated, the PEACE Act not only professionalizes policing, but will also transform department culture across the state.
“This bill will reduce the risk of unlawful or impulsive use of force, as requiring individuals in positions of authority to have a post-secondary educational background deepens their understanding of various factors that influence criminality, including trauma,” said Esteban Núñez, Director of Advocacy and Community Organizing with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC).
“While training and education requirements for California’s officers are already amongst the highest in the nation, we want to continue to lead and raise the bar,” stated Eric Nunez, President of the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA). “It has become clear that the 685-hour police academy does not cover the mandated training required by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST) and all the new legislative requirements that have been established in recent years. We look forward to working with our elected leaders, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders across the state to help develop and refine proposals that will place our officers in the best possible position to serve our communities the way our communities want to be served.”
The PEACE Act is co-sponsored by the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and California Faculty Association, now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. represents South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, and a portion of Huntington Park. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Sr., please visit https://a59.asmdc.org/