Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Mandate Sexual Orientation Training for Peace Officers

Photo: Facebook. City of Long Beach Police walking in the 2018 Long Beach Pride Parade.

A bill that will mandate specific training on sexual orientation and gender identity minority groups for entry-level peace offices and dispatchers was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown over the weekend.

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Assembly Bill 2504 – which the Senate previously passed with a 37-0 vote last month – requires legislation to provide LGBT-specific educational training for individuals training to become peace officers and dispatchers as well as optional training for in-service officers. The Bill was authored by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. It is supported by Equality California and the Sacramento LGBT Center, among others.

“I am grateful that the Governor signed this bill to make LGBT specific police training available to departments across the state,” said Assemblymember Low. “Governor Brown has truly been a pro-equality Governor and this bill is a small step toward making our community safer.” 

AB 2504 requires the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to develop a course of training for California peace officers and dispatchers on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity differences in order to create a more inclusive workplace and improve law enforcement’s effectiveness in serving the LGBTQ+ community.

Prior to this bill, California POST does not require any specific training on sexual orientation and gender identity minority groups for entry-level peace offices and dispatchers and there is no in-service or on-going training requirement. Peace officers are not trained in how to respond to incidents in which the citizens involved are LGBT. The California POST Learning Domain 42 “Cultural Diversity” Student Workbook makes minimal mention of LGBT co-workers and citizens. Rates of domestic violence in same-sex relationships are comparable to opposite-sex relationships. Hate Crimes involving LGBT people continue to be the second most common bias motivation. Gay men and transgender women are particularly vulnerable and it has been reported that hate crimes based on sexual orientation are rising in California. Improving law enforcement’s ability to communicate, recognize and serve members of the LGBT community will improve trust in California’s law enforcement, Low stated in a press release.

 “California is home to the largest LGBTQ population in the country,” Assemblymember Low said. “This legislation is an active step toward keeping our community safer will increase trust in law enforcement within the LGBT community.”

Currently, California POST does not require any specific training on sexual orientation and gender identity minority groups for entry-level peace offices and dispatchers and there is no in-service or on-going training requirement. Peace officers are not trained in how to respond to incidents in which the citizens involved are LGBT. The California POST Learning Domain 42 “Cultural Diversity” Student Workbook makes minimal mention of LGBT co-workers and citizens. Rates of domestic violence in same-sex relationships are comparable to opposite-sex relationships. Hate Crimes involving LGBT people continue to be the second most common bias motivation. Gay men and transgender women are particularly vulnerable and it has been reported that hate crimes based on sexual orientation are rising in California. Improving law enforcement’s ability to communicate, recognize and serve members of the LGBT community will improve trust in California’s law enforcement.

“By providing law enforcement officers with critical training and resources, we can ensure they have the tools they need to serve and protect LGBTQ Californians,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “Too many LGBTQ people, especially transgender women of color, have had interactions with law enforcement that make it crystal clear that such training is needed. We’re grateful Governor Brown for signing AB 2504 and to Assemblymember Low for his leadership, which was crucial to bringing both communities together to pass this groundbreaking legislation.