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revocation of police officer license, police decertification


Despite the over 50-year existence of laws permitting the revocation of a police officer’s right to serve in law enforcement for serious misconduct, most scholars have ignored this development. Currently, 44 states have such laws, but they differ greatly in scope. This article suggests the three most important characteristics of an effective decertification law: first, the types of law enforcement officers covered by the law should be wide-ranging, including correctional officers and probation officers, not just police officers and deputy sheriffs and police officers. Second, the range of misconduct that can lead to decertification should not just be limited to criminal convictions but ought to include serious misconduct that doesn’t result in criminal charges. Finally, because many departments would prefer to retain their problem officers (often for economic reasons), they do not cooperate with the state agency in reporting and investigating officers who, by law, should be brought to the state licensing agency’s attention. The law must have both carrots and sticks to get the local agency’s attention.

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