NEW Bill Permits Disclosure of Peace Officer/Custodial Officer Personnel Records Under Certain Circumstances (SB-1421)

On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown approved SB-1421.[1] SB-1421 legislation makes changes to the California Public Records Act, permitting disclosure of peace officer and custodial officer records under certain circumstances.

Existing law requires peace officer and custodial officer records to be confidential and prohibits the disclosure of the records in any criminal or civil proceeding, except through discovery.

In enacting SB-1421, the California Legislature declared the following:

The public has a right to know all about serious police misconduct, as well as about officer-involved shootings and other serious uses of force. Concealing crucial public safety matters such as officer violations of civilians’ rights, or inquiries into deadly use of force incidents, undercuts the public’s faith in the legitimacy of law enforcement, makes it harder for tens of thousands of hardworking peace officers to do their jobs, and endangers public safety.

Thus, SB-1421 seeks to make available for public inspection certain peace officer or custodial officer personnel records and records relating to specified incidents, complaints and investigations pursuant to the California Public Records Act.

Peace officer or custodial officer personnel records shall not be confidential and must be made available for public inspection under the following circumstances (with exceptions):

· Any record relating to an incident involving the discharge of a firearm by a peace officer or custodial officer.

· Any record relating to an incident in which the use of force by an officer against a person resulted in death or in great bodily injury.

· Any record relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made that an officer engaged in sexual assault involving a member of the public.

· Any record relating to an incident in which a sustained finding of perjury, false statements, filing false reports, destruction, falsifying or concealing evidence was made against an officer.

SB-1421 will make changes to Penal Code section 832.7. Records can be

redacted under certain circumstances to protect the unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the officer and the disclosure of records may be delayed if related to an open investigation or court proceeding.

It is clear that through SB-1421, the Legislature is attempting to provide the public with greater transparency in incidents involving potential law enforcement misconduct.

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[1] Visit the following link for the full text: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1421

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