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California to Allow Non-U.S. Citizens Become Police Officers


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A new law in the state of California changed qualification requirements to become a police officer.

The legislation, that went into effect in 2023, will allow non-U.S. citizens to become police officers in the state.

Now, anyone who can legally work in the state under federal law, can be a police officer, regardless of citizenship.

California authorities claim the law helps them increase hiring numbers to combat skyrocketing crime across the state.

CBS 8 reported:

CBS 8 cleared up some misconceptions about the new law by going directly to the State Senator who wrote the bill, and we talked with the San Diego Police Officers Association about their concerns.

“The San Diego Police Department has lost over 500 officers since July of 2020. That’s drastic. We need everyone we can to be able to be a police officer. However, we are not in favor of reducing the requirements and lowering the standards,” said Sgt. Jared Wilson, speaking as President and on behalf of the San Diego Police Officer’s Association.

Wilson said they do have concerns about the new California law that changed the qualifications to become a police officer in the state.

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Prior to Jan. 1, 2023, you had to be a United States citizen or permanent resident to qualify for the job.

Now, that’s no longer the case. Anyone who is legally authorized to work in the state of California, under federal law, with the proper green card or visa, is eligible to become a police officer. 

State Senator Nancy Skinner (D) is the author of Senate Bill 960, which changed the requirement.

“When you look at California’s rules, almost every other profession, lawyers, doctors… even firefighters… are able to be part of that profession as long as they have full legal authorization, full federal legal work authorization. It was only our sworn officers we restricted that way,” said Skinner.

“Ironically in the military, you could be an officer in the military, and you could not be a peace officer in California. So that’s why we felt it was totally right to fix the rule.”

SB 960 states:

Existing law establishes the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training within the Department of Justice to perform various functions involving the training of peace officers. Existing law requires peace officers in this state to meet specified minimum standards, including, among other requirements, being at least 18 years of age, being of good moral character, as determined by a thorough background investigation, and being either a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident who is eligible for and has applied for citizenship, except as prescribed.
This bill would provide that those standards shall be interpreted and applied consistent with federal law and regulations, as specified. The bill would remove the provision that requires peace officers to either be a citizen of the United States or be a permanent resident who is eligible for and has applied for citizenship, and would instead require peace officers be legally authorized to work in the United States, and make conforming changes.
Under existing law, the minimum education requirement for peace officers is high school graduation from a public school or other accredited high school, passing an equivalency test or high school proficiency examination, or attaining a 2-year, 4-year, or advanced degree from an accredited institution. Existing law requires accreditation to be from a state or local government educational agency, a regional accrediting association, an accrediting association recognized by the United States Department of Education, or an organization holding full membership in specified organizations, including AdvancED.
This bill would revise the accreditation standards to include an organization holding full membership in Cognia.


 

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