Senate Appropriations Committee to hear bill that would allow access to police use of force and misconduct files

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hear SB 1421 and will likely place it on the dreaded suspense calendar, where the last iteration of this measure was killed in 2016.

SB 1421, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would require the public disclosure of police personnel records about uses of serious or deadly force, and sustained findings of sexual misconduct or dishonestly that impacts the legal system.

Sentiment in the Capitol has shifted since the 2016 version of the bill was shelved. In light of current events, including the Stephon Clark shooting in Sacramento, traditional opponents of the bill have indicated that they are willing to work with stakeholders. Additionally, the threat of a potential ballot initiative demanding similar disclosures is driving advocates to the table to negotiate a fix.

If SB 1421 is ultimately passed, newspapers and members of the public would have a right to access information about the most critical incidents occurring in their communities between law enforcement and citizens. This access will help newspapers monitor police and follow up on newsworthy encounters.

A final decision by the Appropriations committee to release the bill to the Senate floor will occur on May 25, and the Senate will have three days to consider and pass the bill to the Assembly to meet legislative deadlines.

If the bill is released from the suspense file on May 25, the bill will be eligible for a vote on the Senate floor on or before June 1.