Another California Court Rules Against Law Enforcement Secrecy, Says Agencies Must Release Old Misconduct Files

from the court-to-cops:-POLICE!-OPEN-UP! dept

If an appeals court doesn't step in within the next few days, California law enforcement agencies will have to start handing out police misconduct records to records requesters.

Since the new transparency law went into effect at the beginning of this year, California police unions have been rushing to stop it from having any meaningful effect. The unions are hoping courts will side with their take on the law -- a take that allows law enforcement agencies to memory-hole misconduct and use of force files predating the law's effective date.

The author of the law, Senator Nancy Skinner, made it clear the new law applies retroactively. The state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, chose to ignore the clarification sent directly to his office by the Senator, and claimed the issue of retroactivity was still open.

The issue isn't as open as Becerra and a few dozen police unions think it is. One court has already said the law should apply retroactively, lifting its temporary injunction pending an appeal. Now another court has sided with the public and greater accountability, stating that the new law can reach old misconduct files.

A Los Angeles judge dealt a blow Tuesday to law enforcement unions trying to limit the scope of a landmark transparency law, ruling that records from shootings, use of force and some misconduct by police officers in California are public even if they occurred before the new law took effect this year.

The decision marks a provisional victory for open-government groups and media organizations that intervened in a case brought by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which sought to keep records of older incidents confidential.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff’s ruling involves records that fall under Senate Bill 1421 — internal investigations into shootings by officers, severe uses of force and confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying by officers.

The expiration date for secrecy -- according to this decision -- is March 1st. The order will take effect and force affected agencies to start respecting the law that went into effect three months earlier. No doubt this will be appealed, but there's no indication this judge is willing to hand out a temporary injunction to the unions while they fight the inevitable. The only option left for agencies to do while the legal war wages on is stonewall requests and overvalue their redaction efforts.

Filed Under: california, discipline, foia, police discipline, police records, retroactive, transparency


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  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 5:54am

    Schadenfreude

    What is it they've been telling us for decades? Oh yeah - if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. GOD, that feels so good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 21 Feb 2019 @ 6:31am

    So what is the punishment for breaking the law?

    There isn't any?

    When will the unions be held accountable for aiding and abetting?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 7:18am

    'Records? What records?'

    The only option left for agencies to do while the legal war wages on is stonewall requests and overvalue their redaction efforts.

    No, those aren't the only options, at least one department found a much easier alternative: destruction. Can't hand over any records if 'routine maintenance' resulted in them being destroyed before you could be forced to make them public after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      radix (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:07am

      Re: 'Records? What records?'

      Seriously. If anybody has a spare industrial shredder, I've got a business proposal for you. You can have that thing running 24/7 for the next week by taking it city to city in California.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 7:59am

    A while back, someone here mentioned it would be ideal if the cops had to buy their own insurance to cover lawsuits. The premiums they pay would reflect how well they adhere to being human. If it gets too expensive then they can find a job they are capable at.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      While that idea sounds good in some ways, it leads toward the same problem that malpractice insurance has caused in the medical industry. Insurance companies and actuaries assessing risk end up determining policies. I do not think we want insurance companies de-facto policy makers for our law enforcement agencies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        TFG, 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:15am

        Re: Re:

        I prefer dispensing with "Qualified Immunity." I prefer making it a point of record that law enforcement should not be allowed to be ignorant of the law.

        I'd rather fight for that, as unattainable as it may seem, than allowing corporations to get any amount of power over what is supposed to be a public service.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Lying to you to make you do what they want. making up B.S. laws that they can't site as they don't exist. Arresting you over B.S. goto charges which they don't even know what they mean. Crap that will get thrown out, but all the while wasting your time and money as you're handcuffed and brought to jail and processed.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Rog S., 22 Feb 2019 @ 6:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: get processed

            ....dint forget, the lical jails feed off of the homeless population, and get paid 150-250 per night for all this bogus charging.

            Predational policing, and a modern form of indenture.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:13am

    Bad Apples

    The unions going to bat so hard for these "bad apples" makes it seem like the bad apples are much more pervasive than they lead us to believe when an incident actually gets exposure. Shouldn't unions and diligent officers welcome this public oversight as a means to finally rid themselves of the stigma that they care more about themselves than the communities they police?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      radix (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:36am

      Re: Bad Apples

      "One bad apple is no big deal?" No, that's not it.

      "One bad apple ruins the whole bunch?" Close, but doesn't quite capture this situation.

      "A few bad apples infected law enforcement decades ago and nobody did anything, so the whole system is corrupt by now?" There it is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rog S., 22 Feb 2019 @ 6:46am

        Re: Re: Bad Apples

        As the case of the CIA demographics unit in New York reveals, and the CIA designed ALPR program in Los Angeles demonstrates- or the recent Houston homicide of the Navy vet where planting evidence and running a smear campaign straight out of the counter -intelligence manuals- the bad apples are in fact the entire police force of any precinct /jurisdiction thats in bed with CIA.

        But we dont call it MHCHAOS 2.0, because theres always an internet full of Pentagon/AIPAC /ADL /SPLC/NGO unspecified and sponsored trolls who sqwawk “conspiracy theory" like trained parrot..... I mean, "Mockingbirds " on cue.

        Then, they deplatform you.

        NICE!

        Nothing to see, hear....or say. Move along folks.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:30am

    Hmmm.....

    Becerra doesn't want to follow the law.

    Didn't he file suit last week against someone else because he said the other party wasn't following the law?

    Do as I say not as I do!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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