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revocation of police officer license, police decertification


We take it as a given that any profession or occupation, which involves interaction with the public, will be regulated by a state agency. Accountants, architects, attorneys, barbers, cosmeticians, dentists, etc. are all required to undergo training, meet selection standards and, if they seriously misbehave, they will have their licenses or certificates revoked by the board or commission which regulates that profession. Until fairly recently, there was no license or professional certificate issued by a state agency for law enforcement officers. That meant that an officer, who had successfully completed his police academy training and received a diploma, could be terminated by one department for cause and be hired by any other department in the state willing to hire him.

This article describes the statutes and regulations now in existence in the 44 states that do license and revoke licenses of law enforcement officers for misconduct. There is great variation among the states on what conduct can lead to revocation, e.g., some states require conviction of a crime whereas others permit revocation administratively, after a hearing before an ALJ. There are also differences on what types of officers are subject to having their licenses removed, e.g., in some states, only peace officers, in others, correctional officers are also covered. With the fate of the exclusionary rule uncertain given recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, strengthening license revocation to ensure that citizens are not subject to continuing abuse by law enforcement officers is more important than ever before.

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