HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »
HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »

California Police Department Wants Five Days Notice And The Personal Info Of Requesters Before Turning Over Misconduct Records

from the another-set-of-extra-rights dept

The thing California cops never thought would happen happened. On January 1, 2019, a new law took effect that opened up police misconduct and use of force records to the public for the first time in ever. Needless to say, cops were not pleased.

Multiple lawsuits were filed in an attempt to block the law from taking effect -- or at least prevent the public from accessing records created prior to January 2019. Multiple lawsuits and legal challenges were rejected by California courts, which read the law as being retroactive.

As those efforts failed, the state's district attorney, Xavier Becerra, decided to go against the courts and the law's author to claim it was not retroactive. Of course, he was no more correct about this than the law enforcement unions being handed losses by the state's courts.

The "smart" law enforcement agencies read the writing on the wall, took the wall down, and ran it through the shredder before the law took effect. There were a few cooperative standouts following the law's enactment, but most law enforcement agencies decided to comply with the new law as antagonistically and slowly as possible.

The Long Beach Police Department is the latest to flip the bird to the public over public records. As Tony Saavedra of the Orange County Register reports, the PD is preemptively buying time. Or, more accurately, it's hoping to steal it. What the PD wants is nearly a week's-worth of heads up if the city plans to release officers' misconduct and use of force records.

Long Beach police officers want five days advance notice before the city releases their individual misconduct and use-of-force records to the public under a new state transparency law.

The city, being the subservient ass it is, has acquiesced. And it's made this five-day advance notice policy even worse.

City contract negotiators have recommended the notification provision, along with the requirement that officers receive the names of individuals and organizations requesting their files.

How's that for a chilling effect? Officers whose files have been requested will know who has been requesting their files. That's going to make things uncomfortable for requesters, who may suddenly find themselves interacting with law enforcement officers far more often than they'd like to.

The boss of the local police union has of course showed up to say something stupid in defense of this heinous bullshit.

James Foster, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Association, said the provision is merely an effort to even the field for police officers.

Foster said officers often don’t know the contents of the administrative investigations done on them.

“It would be grossly unfair for the officer to see this for the first time on the front page of the newspaper,” he said.

"Even the playing field?" Your guys have badges, guns, and a whole lot of power. The playing field is nowhere close to even. Accessing public records doesn't suddenly put citizens on equal footing with people with the force of the law behind them. Let's see how well a cop responds to a citizen stopping him for no reason, insisting the officer explain where he's going, what he's doing, and why he's in such a shady neighborhood, all while checking the contents of his pockets and groin area. Let's see a peace officer sit through a pretextual traffic stop while the citizen kills time with probing questions in hopes of getting a free pass on a vehicle search, with or without Officer Paws and his magical nose.

And, if officers are concerned about appearing on the front page of the newspaper, maybe they shouldn't engage in the sort of misconduct that creates paper trails. Just a suggestion.

This is a bad policy and it's bad news for Californians. No doubt other police unions are asking for the same special treatment, hoping to deter people from obtaining records they're now allowed to obtain.

Filed Under: california, long beach, long beach pd, misconduct, police, transparency, xavier becerra


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 2:18pm

    'Really though, our officers are BEYOND stupid.'

    Foster said officers often don’t know the contents of the administrative investigations done on them.

    “It would be grossly unfair for the officer to see this for the first time on the front page of the newspaper,” he said.

    So, they employ nothing but amnesiacs who are unable to remember their own actions? Because given we're talking about an investigation into what they did they would know quite well what was in those reports, and I find it really hard to believe that they aren't told the results of those 'investigations' once they are completed, given how it might impact their jobs(why, they might face a mild slap on the wrist!).

    This has nothing to do with 'evening the playing field' or 'fairness' and everything to do with making people hesitant to requests those records and providing the PD with CYOA time in case the records might have some damning information they might need to preemptively spin. It's just a pity the city was corrupt and/or cowardly enough to allow it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 4:10pm

      Re: 'Really though, our officers are BEYOND stupid.'

      Just have Muckrock (or someone similar) request ALL the records, then make them available to individuals looking for specific records (FOI'd info is Free once it leaves the agency, as in speech, not beer, right?)

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

  • identicon
    anon, 3 Oct 2019 @ 3:36pm

    stupid cops

    Don't they know that they can request these public records, too?

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

  • identicon
    Mr. Ed's Peanut Allergy, 3 Oct 2019 @ 3:40pm

    Rather telling that the cops want to "even the playing field" - they apparently see us as the opposition, and here I thought we were on the same team. I would think that bad cops would be the opposition we're both fighting against.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 4:11pm

      Re:

      maybe you have been missing "the war against cops". it's just like the "war against christmas", so it is easy to overlook.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 4:21pm

        Re: Re:

        And where is this "war against cops" happening?

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 4:25pm

          Everywhere, according to the cops.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 7:07pm

            Re:

            It is how they can get away with being afraid for their lives from unarmed people running away. If they psych themselves up enough, anybody is a deadly threat, other than themselves of course. They are never something to be afraid of.

            If you are a police officer reading this and you become angered enough to try to find out my identity, you are proving my point for me. I am a trap and any extra-legal means of doxing me will result in your loss of job and freedom.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2019 @ 5:19am

              Re: Re:

              Fear sells

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

            • identicon
              R/O/G/S, 8 Oct 2019 @ 10:17am

              Re: Ref you are a police officer reading this ..

              Thats not how it works. What actually happens here is that TD is moderated by agents of the Anti Defamation League and othercsordid speech police.

              So, what you are,saying is pretty average, pasty white, fairly harmless.

              But when you begin to link this nefarious anti-democracy spy organization/race-based group to things like #Israelification and #militarization of the American police, well, thats when one of THEM takes down your name, IP address, etc.(which the,webmasters at TD willingly provide), and then reports you to the police/intel agency unspecified.

              As long as your just anti-police, and dont dig deeper, most cops dont give a shit, or have the time to waste on your comnent.

              These "others" though...they SPECIALIZE in time theft.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 6:53pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The same fictional universe that the 'war on christmas' is taking place in.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2019 @ 1:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's projection. Basically their constant abuse and slaughter of everyone, with the occasional "she had cuffs on so it isn't rape", is what they call "the war on cops". Because that way everything they do is just self defense against their victims you see. Anything that's not a cop, "is at war with them".

          Or, when you consider their actual actions: They're at war against anything that's not a cop. And their supporters are telling those being shot at "well whatever you do violence is not the answer! If you think you've been wronged, give them your name, address and other personal information because that's resisting arrest and WE'LL KILL YOU."

          It's uncle Jimbo's "LOOK OUT! IT'S HEADED RIGHT FOR US!"
          Or if you'd prefer a historical context, US police nationwide have spent years applying lessons learned from their German colleagues on August 31 1939, basically screaming "Help! Help! Poland is invading us!"

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 5:15pm

        Re: Re:

        Oh you mean nonexistent. Not sure why you brough it up then bro.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 4:09pm

    Get and publish them all

    Some enterprising Long Beach citizens rights group should crowdfund in order to pay a large law office to request all the records, and then turn them over to several newspapers that publish in the area and publish them all. That may or may not be enough cover to overcome potential police retribution, but it might be.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Oct 2019 @ 5:35pm

    I guess...

    now Blue Feelings Matter.

    Or...

    They want to know who to target.

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

  • icon
    John Snape (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 7:28pm

    If someone telling true facts about your actions causes you grief or embarrassment, maybe the messenger isn't the problem.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 11:01pm

    • "So ms. Smith. The good news is that we will get the documents in 5 days. I am quite sure it contains something we can use against the man who tazed you and did an illegal strip-search. A person like that must have a record containing offenses."
      • "The bad news is that I had to tell said man who you are, what we wanted with the records, and where you live. It is only fair, you see."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2019 @ 1:25am

    "Now then Kevin. Why dont you stand up in front of the whole class and point out to me who you said has been bullying you, because I'm sure nothing bad will happen after I leave the room. Right?"

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

  • identicon
    Bobob, 4 Oct 2019 @ 3:33am

    The comment from the police association about "evening the field," is about as much of a flat out admission of an "us against them" mentality as it gets from an organization that represents the police.

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

  • identicon
    FriendsOfFeds, 4 Oct 2019 @ 8:49am

    It's good to have a friend in the feds..

    Just ask your FBI friend to submit the request for you...

    Laugh as the local poh-lice realize they're fucked.

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

  • identicon
    TRX, 4 Oct 2019 @ 9:26am

    requirement that officers receive the names of individuals and organizations requesting their files.

    Why, shore, pardnuh!

    Someone who could use a few extra bucks could put up an ad on Craigslist or Facebook offering their services as a proxy. "Will place FOIA request for $5, confidentiality guaranteed."

    Doesn't have to be in California. For that matter, I doubt there's a legal reason they'd even have to be in the USA.

    Go for it! And you're welcome.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2019 @ 10:55am

    "California Police Department Wants Five Days Notice And The Personal Info Of Requesters Before Turning Over Misconduct Records"

    Yeah?
    Well, I want a unicorn that shits rainbows.
    I'm not gonna get it but neither should the cops.

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

  • identicon
    bob, 4 Oct 2019 @ 12:11pm

    this 5 days seems to conflict the law.

    The five days seems to conflict with what the state law actually allows. But it is based on your interpretation of promptly. Also it appears the subsection (b) (c) and (d) all stop this 5 day nonsense.

    (b) Except with respect to public records exempt from disclosure by express provisions of law, each state or local agency, upon a request for a copy of records that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records, shall make the records promptly available to any person upon payment of fees covering direct costs of duplication, or a statutory fee if applicable. Upon request, an exact copy shall be provided unless impracticable to do so.

    Full section:
    6253.
    (a) Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided. Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be available for inspection by any person requesting the record after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law.

    (b) Except with respect to public records exempt from disclosure by express provisions of law, each state or local agency, upon a request for a copy of records that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records, shall make the records promptly available to any person upon payment of fees covering direct costs of duplication, or a statutory fee if applicable. Upon request, an exact copy shall be provided unless impracticable to do so.

    (c) Each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall, within 10 days from receipt of the request, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefor. In unusual circumstances, the time limit prescribed in this section may be extended by written notice by the head of the agency or his or her designee to the person making the request, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched. No notice shall specify a date that would result in an extension for more than 14 days. When the agency dispatches the determination, and if the agency determines that the request seeks disclosable public records, the agency shall state the estimated date and time when the records will be made available. As used in this section, “unusual circumstances” means the following, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request:

    (1) The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request.

    (2) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are demanded in a single request.

    (3) The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the agency having substantial subject matter interest therein.

    (4) The need to compile data, to write programming language or a computer program, or to construct a computer report to extract data.

    (d) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to permit an agency to delay or obstruct the inspection or copying of public records. The notification of denial of any request for records required by Section 6255 shall set forth the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial.

    (e) Except as otherwise prohibited by law, a state or local agency may adopt requirements for itself that allow for faster, more efficient, or greater access to records than prescribed by the minimum standards set forth in this chapter.

    (f) In addition to maintaining public records for public inspection during the office hours of the public agency, a public agency may comply with subdivision (a) by posting any public record on its Internet Web site and, in response to a request for a public record posted on the Internet Web site, directing a member of the public to the location on the Internet Web site where the public record is posted. However, if after the public agency directs a member of the public to the Internet Web site, the member of the public requesting the public record requests a copy of the public record due to an inability to access or reproduce the public record from the Internet Web site, the public agency shall promptly provide a copy of the public record pursuant to subdivision (b).

    (Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 275, Sec. 1. (AB 2853) Effective January 1, 2017.)

    Source:
    Government Code - GOV
    TITLE 1. GENERAL [100 - 7914] ( Title 1 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )
    DIVISION 7. MISCELLANEOUS [6000 - 7599.2] ( Division 7 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )
    CHAPTER 3.5. Inspection of Public Records [6250 - 6276.48] ( Chapter 3.5 added by Stats. 1968, Ch. 1473. )

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

    • identicon
      Bruce, 5 Oct 2019 @ 12:17am

      Re: this 5 days seems to conflict the law.

      Of course they violate the law. But unless common citizens start arresting and punishing the police for it, what're they gonna do? Arrest themselves?

      If MS13 was just going to arrest itself for what it does, we wouldn't need people running around with guns authorized to go arrest them. They'd just walk themselves straight into jail. To expect LAPD to just perp-walk themselves into the slammer for life for their daily activities is not just idiotic, it's downright suicidal (especially if you're black). Expecting police to deal with themselves is putting all our families in mortal danger.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2019 @ 12:13am

    No consequences is the problem.

    They fuck people up, and they stay alive. They rape the idea of justice in every hole, and they stay alive. And then when people ask for the paperwork to maybe at least be able to track how many crimes, abuses and assaults the police do, they go "tell us where you live and give us a few days, OR ELSE".

    And they stay alive, so they know it's okay to keep getting worse.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.