CNPA requesting newspaper help to increase public access to police discipline records and body-cam footage

As the Legislature returns from recess on Monday, CNPA is working to push two important access bills over the finish line.

SB 1421 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and AB 748 by Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would substantially increase public access to law enforcement records for journalists who investigate police and law enforcement activities.

SB 1421 would allow public access to police personnel records regarding any use of force, or a sustained finding of an act of sexual misconduct or act of dishonesty like perjury. AB 748 would amend California Government Code Section 6254(f), the terribly proscriptive investigatory records exemption under the California Public Records Act, to require that video and audio footage be disclosed if it depicts a critical incident (defined as a use of force or a police officer’s violation of law or agency policy).

Both bills are headed for the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees’ suspense calendars and will be tough to get to the governor’s desk, particularly because of potential hostility to the bills in the Assembly. The floor vote for both bills will happen in mid to late August before the Legislature adjourns for the year on Aug. 31.

These bills will successfully proceed only if the Legislature believes that the public is watching and holding them accountable for its vote. The law enforcement lobby is mighty and will continue to exert pressure on individual legislators to oppose the measures.

CNPA urges all members to editorialize in favor of both measures and to watch and report on these bills as they progress through the Legislature in the next few weeks. CNPA staff has also drafted sample editorials, linked here for your use or as op-eds:

Appropriations editorial

Sample editorial 1

Sample editorial 2

Sample editorial 3

Please forward any published editorials or op-eds to CNPA Legal Counsel Nikki Moore so that they can be distributed to legislators before the floor votes.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Moore by email or by telephone at (916) 288-6006.