Senator Portantino Introduces LEARN Act to Increase Education Standards for Law Enforcement Recruitment

Thursday, February 11 2021



For Immediate Release: February 11, 2021          

Contact: Lerna Shirinian (818) 807-6091


Senator Portantino Introduces LEARN Act to Increase Education Standards for Law Enforcement Recruitment


Sacramento, California – Today, State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D- La Canada Flintridge) introduced SB 387, a measure aimed at improving community policing, diversity within rank and file departments, and public safety outcomes.

“Community policing today is more complex than ever, and we need officers that reflect our diverse communities and adapt to their values. The basic functions and duties of an officer have changed immensely over the years, but the recruitment strategies, pre-requisite training, and types of education we expect our officers to have needs updating,” stated Senator Portantino. “The LEARN Act will allow us to recruit, educate, and train California’s next generation of peace officers and better prepare them to carry out their duties in a way that is consistent with the expectations we place on officers today.”

California must take the lead and ensure that we have the best and most highly trained officers. Today’s peace officers face many challenges, including evolving technologies, changing laws, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and the growing mental health crisis. Studies and research from public safety experts throughout the country consistently show that increased education and training can help officers approach each interaction in a way that is proven to increase positive public safety outcomes. 

SB 387 will set California’s next generation of peace officers up for success while helping to repair the trust between officers and the communities they serve.  First, it would establish a statewide taskforce, comprised of community members, educators, and law enforcement, that will focus on identifying best practices for recruitment. The LEARN Act would also direct the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training to develop an expanded curriculum specifically designed to prepare officers to meet the expectations of a modern police force, including classes on mental health, social services, psychology, communication, and other related fields. The third component of the bill would provide financial grants to individuals who are in need and are committed to pursuing a career in law enforcement.

“We must do more to show the value of a career in law enforcement as an honorable profession worthy of pursuing for all of California’s youth, regardless of their background, race, gender or financial status,” stated Brian Marvel, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC). “If we are to truly improve public safety outcomes, we must seek to facilitate a cultural shift, both within the law enforcement profession but also externally in the way officers are viewed by members of the public. The LEARN Act will help us begin to facilitate a cultural shift by preparing and empowering our officers to approach each interaction with the necessary tools and skills, especially when confronting resistance.”

“While training and education requirements for California’s officers are already amongst the highest in the nation, we want to continue to lead and raise the bar,” stated Eric Nunez, President of the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA). “It has become clear that the 685-hour police academy does not cover the mandated training required by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST) and all the new legislative requirements that have been established in recent years. We look forward to working with our elected leaders, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders across the state to help develop and refine proposals that will place our officers in the best possible position to serve our communities the way our communities want to be served.”

SB 387 will create increased opportunities to recruit from a more diverse pool of prospective officers, require specific academic coursework as part of the training each officer must complete, and provide financial resources for both prospective and current officers to pursue a college education.

Legislators who have signed on in support of SB 387 include Senator Caballero as principal co-author and Senator Henry Stern, Assemblymember O’Donnell, Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan, Assemblymember Daly, Assemblymember Cooper, Assemblymember Low, and Assemblymember Grayson as co-authors.

The LEARN Act is sponsored by the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) and the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA).



Senator Anthony Portantino represents California’s 25th State Senate District, which includes Sunland/Tujunga, Atwater Village, and the Griffith Park areas of the city of Los Angeles, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Bradbury, Duarte, Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont and Upland.