Police transparency bill to be heard in Senate committee next Tuesday

A bill sponsored by a law enforcement group known as PORAC, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, that could potentially halt the disclosure of the names of officers involved in shootings, is scheduled for hearing next week before the Senate Public Safety Committee.

AB 1428, by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-San Jose), was introduced by law enforcement groups in response to last year’s attempt by former Senator Mark Leno to bring about police misconduct reform. CNPA and the ACLU co-sponsored Leno’s bill, SB 1286, which was killed in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

CNPA and the ACLU oppose AB 1428.

Spun as a reform bill, AB 1428, among other things, would require each county district attorney’s office that conducts an investigation into an incident involving the shooting of a civilian by a peace officer to report the findings of that investigation on a publicly accessible internet website within 30 days of the conclusion of the investigation.

The bill would also require each department or agency that employs peace officers to post reports about serious uses of force by peace officers on its internet website within 30 days of completing any investigation or adjudication related to the use of force.

AB 1428, however, would prohibit the report from: identifying the peace officer involved in the serious use of force incident or containing information that could be used to identify the officer.

The prohibition on the disclosure of the identity of the peace officer would reverse the California Supreme Court’s ruling in a case brought by the Los Angeles Times after an officer involved shooting in the city of Long Beach. In Long Beach Police Officers Association v. City of Long Beach, the Court held that the public has a right to access the names of officers involved in shootings that can only be overcome when a sufficient particularized showing of threat of harm can be made by the officer or the department.

CNPA has asked the committee to amend the bill to strike the prohibition on the disclosure of officer names so that the reporting out provision is in compliance with the Supreme Court’s holding in the Long Beach case.

Stay tuned to next week’s Legislative Bulletin for a report on the hearing.