Los Angeles is set to test the LEWIS Registry, the first comprehensive national database of police officers who have been terminated or resigned due to misconduct.
Named after the late Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, the Law Enforcement Work Inquiry System or LEWIS Registry aims to bring transparency and accountability to law enforcement nationwide, NBC News reports. The USC Safe Communities Institute (SCI) announced the pilot roll-out of the LEWIS (Law Enforcement Work Inquiry System) Registry on Monday.
The registry uses public records from sources such as official department statements, court records, police notices, news reports, and other open sources, to document details of a police officer’s history of misconduct. The database keeps track of reports related to incidents of excessive force, corruption, domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, perjury, hate group affiliation, or filing a false police report. The system serves to prevent terminated or resigned officers from getting rehired at another police department.
“A national police misconduct registry of abusive, violent and corrupt police officers is necessary to ensure transparency,” said U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA 37rd District). “This will hold officers accountable to the people they are supposed to serve and protect, as well as prevent bad officers from leaving one department and being hired in another.”
State laws have protected the personnel records of reprimanded officers for years. But California lawmakers are working to pass legislation that would force departments to decertify officers with serious misconduct history so that they cannot get hired by another agency.
“The common term is called bouncing and they bounced from department to department. California, unfortunately, is one of five states that when you get terminated, you keep your post,” Dr. Erroll Southers, director of USC Safe Communities Institute, and a former police officer and FBI agent.
He continued. “We’re only focused on officers that have been terminated, resigned due to misconduct so they can’t go to another department. We think that agencies across the country need to know who they are. They need to know where they came from and to give them an opportunity to not rehire them.”