Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Sunday two bills that will end 40 years of blocking public access to police records relating to serious use of force, on the job sexual assaults and dishonesty.
SB 1421 was penned by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) who represents the 9th Senate District.
“When incident such as a police shooting occurs, the public has a right to know that there was a thorough investigation,” Skinner said in a statement issued after Brown signed her bill.
California was alone among states in completely prohibiting public access to law enforcement records. SB 1421 has now overturned rules restoring the public’s ability to monitor law enforcement agencies, Skinner said.
With SB 1421, California can rebuild public trust in law enforcement and end the practice of officers who have had repeated incidents bouncing from agency to agency, Skinner said.
SB 1421 dictates that law enforcement agencies must provide public access to records related to the discharge of a firearm, use of force resulting in death or great bodily harm, on-the-job sexual assault including coercion or exchanging sex for lenience and for dishonesty in reporting, investigating or prosecuting a crime.
Beside the open records law, Brown signed a second measure.
Assembly Bill 748 requires departments statewide to release body-worn camera and other video and audio recordings of officer shootings and serious uses of force within 45 days, unless doing so would interfere with an ongoing investigation.
This law, modeled after a new LAPD policy on releasing body-camera video, makes California’s rules for releasing footage some of the most transparent in the country, according to research by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.