California is considering a law requiring new cops or prison wardens have a bachelor’s degree or, failing that, be over the age of 25.
Democratic Los Angeles assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduced the proposal Monday — citing studies that show older or more educated officers are less likely to use excessive force.
“These jobs are complex, they’re difficult, and we should not just hand them over to people who haven’t fully developed themselves,” Jones-Sawyer said.
Currently, Californians can become peace officers at 18 with a high school degree or test equivalent, noted Jones-Sawyer, chairman of the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
He insisted his “data-driven bill” relied on “years of study and new understandings of brain development.”
Jones-Sawyer told the Sacramento Bee that his proposal was based on studies that showed college-educated police officers are less likely to use force in encounters with suspects.
Other studies showed that parts of the brain dedicated to impulse control, planning and working memory do not develop fully until about age 25, he told the paper.
If approved, the bill would “ensure that only those officers capable of high-level decision-making and judgment in tense situations are entrusted with working in our communities and correctional facilities,” he said.
Saying that his community is “too familiar with police violence and physical force, Jones-Sawyer said it also “erodes trust in law enforcement.”
“This could be the beginning of changing the entire way that policing is done on the front end,” Jones-Sawyer told the Sacramento Bee.
“Then we can let the bad cops retire on the back end.”