Law Enforcement Officer Decertification

1/12/2021

Decertification database

*Data collected December 2020. Information on using the database.*

Statutory Summary

Statutory law enforcement decertification requirements are in place in 11 states. These laws set standards and requirements that must be met for law enforcement to be decertified by their state police officer standards and training (POST) board or other state certifying agency.

Certification and decertification function similarly to professional licenses. The certificate is issued by the state government as a requirement to legally work as a police officer in that state. Police officers who are decertified are no longer legally allowed to work in the jurisdiction that certified them unless their certification is reinstated.

In some states, statutory decertification requirements can be very detailed, with the law specifying types of acts, criminal or otherwise, that would qualify an officer for decertification. These can include criminal convictions, acts of racial or other bias, corruption or other acts deemed worthy of decertification. The statutes also describe how investigations into possible cause for decertification can be handled and the state certifying agency’s role in acting on possible or proven cause for decertification.   

Alabama, for example, says that an any officer convicted of a felony shall be decertified. Alabama statute also sets out a police officer’s right to a hearing and appeal of decertification decisions. Arkansas has detailed laws describing when and how the state Division of Law Enforcement Standards shall be notified of officer disciplinary actions or termination from employment that could lead to decertification.

However, in most states, the law sets very basic standards, with a few details, leaving the rest to be determined by state training boards or other local authorities designated by law.

Using the Database

Learn more about officer decertification in the 50-state statutory database by clicking on the image at the top of the page.

Note that this section of the database encompasses statutory requirements for law enforcement decertification only. It does not include regulatory requirements, POST board requirements, or any other non-statutory training requirements developed at the state or local level. This also does not include local requirements, which can go above but not be less than state requirements. These standards also do not specifically cover state police agencies.

The database can be navigated by using state and subtopic filters. Text searching is available for statutory summaries or statutory language contained in the database. The map is also interactive and allows you to more quickly select multiple states to review, just hold down the control key to select more than one state. Use the reset button at the top left to clear all filters and start a new search.

Note that this database only contains statutory provisions that address each policy area. Case law, regulations or agency policy may further impact the current state of the law in each state. This database also does not address policy adopted by local jurisdictions or law enforcement agencies.

For questions, additions or suggestions please contact amber.widgery@ncsl.org.

Additional Resources