The California criminal justice system plays an integral role in shaping the quality of law enforcement. The stakeholders, such as federal law enforcement agencies, the public and the state government, have recognized the need to adopt new policies within the California criminal justice system. In 2021, the California governor signed into law three bills examining critical law enforcement areas. The three bills outline how law enforcement agency is supposed to use force in the day-to-day operation, the minimum qualifications and the use of force among peace officers. The new laws will improve the operations of the law enforcement agency by addressing excessive use of force among law enforcement officers and ensuring effective training and hiring of peace officers in California.
Promote Reasonable use of Force within Law Enforcement
The laws will play a crucial role in promoting the use of reasonable force within law enforcement hence preventing violent confrontations between the public and law enforcement officers. According to the California Law Enforcement Bill, AB-48 Law Enforcement: Use of Force, 2021-2022, (Cal.), (USA), law enforcement agencies within the state of California should use reasonable force during patrol and arrests. The new law mandates police officers to use reasonable force when making arrests, irrespective of the suspect’s racial background (Lofstrom et al., 2021). Therefore, this law prohibits state officers from using excessive force, which may cause injuries or death. One of the major issues that have undermined the reputation of law enforcement in California is the use of unreasonable force characterized by kinetic energy projectiles and beating suspects. In many instances, peace officers have been accused of using deadly force when making arrests leading to severe injuries and deaths. For example, law enforcement has contributed to almost 1000 deaths in California within the last 6 years. It is important to note that the new law on the use of force will prevent any further violent confrontation between law enforcement and the general public. By addressing promoting the use of reasonable force, the new law will ultimately improve the operations of the criminal justice system.
Promote Effective Hiring of Law Enforcement Officials
The new laws will also improve the quality of the California criminal justice system by fostering skill-based training and hiring of police officers. According to the new California Peace Officers Bill, AB-89 Peace Officers, officers are required to undergo mandatory training and certification before deployment in the field (AB-89 Peace Officers: Minimum Qualifications, 2021-2022). The law fosters education within the criminal justice system. Key stakeholders such as Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), learning institutions and the public are required to coordinate operations to ensure that peace officers acquire effective training (Doyle, 2021). The law requires the officers to study various courses, such as communication and psychology, which are directly related to the police line of work. Therefore, the new laws will enhance the criminal justice system by ensuring that the law enforcement department hires only highly skilled and professional peace officers.
Police officers who have undergone efficient training will easily understand the need to observe an ethical code of conduct and other important areas, such as the use of force in their line of duty. Police officers with limited education are most likely to use deadly force when interacting with suspected offenders than the ones with high literacy levels. It is therefore evident that the news will redefine the hiring and training of law enforcement officers leading to the improvement of the state of the criminal justice system.
The Role of the New Laws in Addressing Past Law Enforcement Issues
Interestingly, the new laws could have played a great impact on solving past criminal events. For example, had the laws been passed a few years ago, they could have helped in addressing cases of officer-involved shootings. Over the past few years, California has experienced several cases where law enforcement officers use deadly force leading the death of innocent civilians. For example, in Los Angeles, an officer-involved shooting led to the death of 172 individuals in 2021. This figure clearly shows that the city experiences a high crime rate which requires an effective approach by the law enforcement department. The law that requires peace officers to use reasonable force might have really helped in avoiding the deaths of the suspected offenders and the civilian (California Peace Officers Bill, AB-26 Peace Officers: Use of Force. 2021-2022, (Cal.), (USA). The laws might have also helped in law enforcement hiring in California over the past five years.
One of the factors that have contributed to the rise in crimes and deadly use of force is unethical practices that occur during the hiring process. In some cases, the hiring panel fails to examine the skills and experience of a prospective peace officer leading to the hiring of incompetent law enforcement officers. During hiring, unethical behavior such as taking bribes and hiring relatives, undermines the whole process. Just like other state departments, the law enforcement department has faced instances of corruption which affects the quality of the new police recruits. However, the new laws could have helped in addressing unethical hiring had they been passed earlier. The three new laws could have positively helped in addressing critical law enforcement issues, namely, officer-involved shootings, use of force and law enforcement hiring practices hence boosting the criminal justice system.
Impact of the New Laws on Overall Criminal Justice System Components
The new laws will herald a new era in the criminal justice system by improving the quality of service delivery within the system. The new laws provide an efficient framework that different departments within the criminal justice system will use to improve efficiency and service delivery. The criminal justice system is an important element within the federal and state government since it fosters the observation of laws and regulations within a particular jurisdiction. Specifically, the new laws will streamline operations in courts and the department of Corrections.
Firstly, the courts, being parts of the state legislative system, will benefit from the new laws by acquiring new framework for judging offenders. For example, the bills provide the regulations that guide the use of force among law enforcement and peace officers as well as the hiring practice within the law enforcement department. Therefore, law enforcement officers who violate the provisions will be subjected to trial and sentencing in the various courts in California. The laws will guide the activities of the court depending on the type of crime that the public or the police officers commit in their line of duty. For example, law enforcement officers who use deadly force shall be judged accordingly and face sentencing in a court of law. The new laws will shape both current and future court operations and help in improving service delivery.
Secondly, the new laws will also shape the operations of the correctional facilities within the state. The Department of Correction is a critical element of the criminal justice system that will benefit from the new laws. For example, the laws that prohibit the use of deadly force will help in reducing the number of police officers and the public who are jailed in the correctional facilities. Notably, when law enforcement officers use reasonable force to make arrests, it reduces the chances of either the officer shooting the suspect or the offender shooting or killing the law officer (Harney & Lerman, 2021). All these aspects help in reducing the chances of incarceration in state jails. The laws also provide guidelines on how peace officers should be hired into the police service. Officers who undergo mandatory education and training programs are more likely to adhere to the code of conduct hence reducing the chances of deadly confrontation that might lead to incarceration. I believe that the new laws will positively change the overall components of the criminal justice system, especially the law enforcement, court system and correctional departments.
Overall, the three new laws will improve the quality and service delivery in the criminal justice system in California. The law that guides the law enforcement department’s use of force will help in addressing the rampant use of deadly force, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians. The law that deals with the peace officers’ hiring practice will guide the hiring of law enforcement officers hence resulting in highly skilled and competent officers. The stakeholders, such as the state government, Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, the public and law enforcement agencies, should collaborate to promote the implementation of the laws within the law enforcement department. All departments or stakeholders within the criminal justice system should understand the significance of the new laws and strive to implement them to improve operations within the California criminal justice system.
California Law Enforcement Bill, AB-48 Law Enforcement: Use of Force, 2021-2022, (Cal.), (USA).
California Peace Officers Bill, AB-89 Peace Officers: Minimum Qualifications, 2021-2022, (Cal.), (USA).
California Peace Officers Bill, AB-26 Peace Officers: Use of Force. 2021-2022, (Cal.), (USA).
Doyle, L. (2021). Police Recruitment: Finding a better way to hire tomorrow’s finest (Doctoral dissertation, University of Southern California).
Harney, J., & Lerman, A.E. (2021). Clarifying the role of officer coping on turnover in Corrections. Criminal Justice Studies, 34(4), 397-422.
Lofstrom, M., Hayes, J., Martin, B., & Premkumar, D., (2021). Racial disparities in law enforcement stops. Public Policy Institute of California. Web.