Database will track officer complaints, disciplinary action
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama will create a database to track disciplinary actions and excessive force complaints against law enforcement officers, a measure aimed at weeding out “bad apples” in the profession.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday signed the bill to create a state database to track law enforcement officers’ employment history, disciplinary actions, use of force complaints and reassignments for cause.
Nationwide, there have been calls for greater transparency in policing following the high-profile shootings and deaths of unarmed African Americans with states taking a variety of actions. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday in the death of George Floyd, whose killing sparked nationwide protests.
Democratic Rep. A.J. McCampbell, a former police officer, sponsored the Alabama bill and said it was aimed at preventing bad actors from moving “from one city to the next city.”
“We have great officers. But it’s just like any other profession, you have great actors and you have bad actors. This is an opportunity to weed out the bad actors,” McCampbell, D-Demopolis, said.
McCampbell said the governor had helped work on the legislation. The House of Representatives approved the bill 95-4 vote. The Senate approved the bill on a 26-0 vote.
The database would not be public. It would be for law enforcement use only, including for police agencies to review a job candidate’s background.
“It would make it more difficult for someone who has got a checkered past to hop from law enforcement agency to law enforcement agency. It builds a database so we can sort of weed out the bad apples that everyone continues to talk about,” state Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said Wednesday during a news conference of the Alabama House Democratic Caucus.
Former President Donald Trump in June signed an executive order to encourage better police practices and establish a database to track officers with excessive use-of-force complaints.
While Alabama lawmakers approved the database creation with few dissenting votes, other policing bills have stalled in the GOP-dominated Legislature. A bill that would establish uniform procedures for the release of police body camera and dash camera footage has not gotten a committee vote. Bills that would track officer-involved shootings and mandate uniform investigative procedures also stalled in past years.
The Alabama Senate has approved a bill that would require police to collect racial data during traffic stops — a measure intended to prevent the targeting of minority motorists — but the bill has not gotten a vote in the Alabama House.
“We support law enforcement. However, we strongly believe law enforcement should be held to a higher standard and their actions should be fair and responsible,” England said.