St. Louis lawyer has been working for decades to decertify rogue police
ST. LOUIS— Roger Goldman, a St. Louis University law professor and attorney, has spent 40 years of his career becoming an expert in police decertification.
Police decertification means removing the authority of an officer who engages in misconduct.
Goldman helped to create Missouri's decertification law in 1988.
He started his work after a St. Louis police officer had killed a man he said was trying to steal his car.
Fourty-five states have laws to decertify “bad police officers”. The five that do not are Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii and California.
Since he began his work nearly 40 years ago, Goldman has worked with various states to create and strengthen these laws.
Goldman says some state laws are stronger than others. He described Missouri’s as one of the strongest.
In Missouri, police officers do not have to be criminally convicted to lose their license —they can be decertified for misconduct. Officers can be decertified for things like sexual abuse, excessive force or bribery.
Since enacting the rule in the 1988 Missouri, has decertified 1,000 officers.
“Most people are unaware that the state has this role”, Goldman said.
Since the death of George Floyd, Goldman has received an increase of interest in his work with states.
“They either want to get the law or strengthen the law”, Goldman said. “I think fairly soon every single state will have this decertification ability”.
There is currently a database for decertified police officers maintained by volunteers.
His ultimate goal is to create a federally funded data base.
“The federal government is involved in a data base on health care professionals, who you know get in trouble in the state”, Goldman said.
Goldman says he predicts all states will have a decertification law by the end of the year.