Californians Will Finally Get Access to Records About Police Misconduct

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills dramatically increasing transparency about law enforcement behavior.

For decades, California has kept police misconduct records exempt from public records requests, denying citizens (and even prosecutors and defense attorneys in court cases) easy access to information about law enforcement behavior.

Now that secrecy is coming to an end. This afternoon Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law S.B. 1421, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D–Berkeley). S.B. 1421 changes the rules to call for the release of police conduct (and misconduct) records in certain situations: if the officer discharged his or her gun in an incident; if the officer was involved in an incident that led to death or great bodily injury; if the officer had been found to have engaged in sexual assault with a member of the public (this includes any sexual act while on duty); and if the officer had been found to have engaged in dishonest practices, such as committing perjury, falsifyin
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