Before SB 1421 was amended, the existing law stated that any personal records involving police officers that related to complaints made against them must be kept confidential and “the disclosure of those records in any criminal or civil proceeding, except by discovery” was prohibited. This confidentiality made it easy for police officers who engaged in acts of misconduct to never be recognized for their inappropriate behavior as the public was rarely made aware of it. However, given the modifications that were made, the “California Public Records Act [now] requires a state or local agency, as defined, to make public records available for inspection.”
Of course, there are still times when exceptions will apply, and certain records will be unobtainable.
Now, because the California Legislature believes that “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,” the following personnel records as well as records maintained by the state or police agency are no longer kept confidential and shall be available for public inspection:
- Incidents involving an officer who has discharged his/her weapon at an individual.
- Incidents involving police officers who have applied a use of force that has resulted in a person’s death or someone suffering great bodily injury.
- Records involving an officer that has been found guilty of engaging in sexual assault involving a member of the public.
- Any record that indicates an officer of the law has been found guilty of an act of misconduct which includes, but is not limited to, perjury, false statements, filing false reports, destruction, falsifying, or concealing of evidence.
SB1421 also stipulates the type of records that are permitted to be disclosed to the public which includes:
- All investigative reports
- Photographic, audio, and video evidence
- Transcripts or recordings of interviews
- Autopsy reports
- All materials that have been “compiled and presented for review to the district attorney or to any person or body charged with determining whether to file criminal charges against an officer in connection with an incident, or whether the officer’s action was consistent with law and agency policy for purposes of discipline or administrative action, or what discipline to impose or corrective action to take.”
The truth is, when incidents involving police misconduct are hidden from the public, it “undercuts the public’s faith in the legitimacy of law enforcement.” However, with SB1421 allowing the disclosure of these records, it helps the public become more informed on how the officers who are expected to be serving and protecting their community are actually behaving. And the more light that is shed on officer misconduct, the better chance innocent individuals are at not becoming the next victim of police brutality.
What if I am a victim of police misconduct and I live in Stockton, CA?
If your encounter with a police officer in Stockton ended with you being physically, verbally, or even financially abused as officers are sometimes guilty of seizing property they have no business taking, you need to speak with a Stockton, CA police brutality attorney immediately. You may be entitled to recover compensation which serves as a form of relief for the mistreatment you have had to endure on account of a corrupt or negligent police officer. To get connected with a police misconduct attorney in Stockton, CA now who is prepared to help you, contact USAttorneys.com today.