Model Legislation

State of California – AB 89: PEACE (Peace Officers Education and Age Conditions for Employment) Act
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Committee of Jurisdiction: Law, Justice, and Ethics


In California, peace officers currently only need to be 18 years of age and hold a high school diploma or pass an equivalent test. Not only does neurological research display that cognitive brain development, especially in areas affecting decision-making and judgment, continues well beyond age 18 and into early adulthood, but also studies show that college educated officers not only perform better overall but also rely on force less often.

Scientific evidence on young adult development and neuroscience shows that, in particular, the areas of the brain designated as still developing well past 18 and into adulthood include portions affecting judgement and decision-making (Sara B. Johnson, 2009) (Health, 2011). Current science indicates “the development and maturation of the prefrontal cortex occurs primarily during adolescence and is fully accomplished in young adults in their mid-20s. The development of the prefrontal cortex is very important for complex behavioral performance, as this region of the brain helps accomplish executive brain functions.” (Mariam Arain, 2013). A young adult with a still developing brain may struggle during events that require quick decision-making and judgments; thus, raising the minimum age will allow peace officer recruits to achieve more brain maturation before interacting in our communities and while addressing high-stakes situations. Additionally, raising the minimum age for officers will align with other law enforcement officers, such as correctional officers who need to be 21 years of age, as well as the minimum age allowed to possess a firearm, which is also 21 years of age.

State Action


NBCSL Member Sponsor(s):
  • Asm. Byron Jones-Sawyer (CA)

Summary: State of California - AB 89: PEACE (Peace Officers Education and Age Conditions for Employment) Act
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