Leaders of the union representing Los Angeles police officers said Wednesday they will decide soon whether to appeal a judge’s ruling backing public release of internal department records on officer-misconduct cases.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff on Tuesday rejected a bid by the Los Angeles Police Protective League to prevent the release of such records from cases that occurred prior to Jan. 1, when a new state law took effect requiring the documents to be made public.
“The Los Angeles Police Protective League has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the legal rights of our members,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the union in response to the ruling. “As such, we petitioned the Superior Court to enforce privacy laws on the books through Dec. 31, 2018. We expect the LAPD and every other law enforcement agency in California to comply with this new law as it applies to requests for information about accessible incidents beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
“A decision will be made shortly as to whether we will file an appeal to the Superior Court ruling.”
The Los Angeles Times — one of several media outlets that intervened in the case seeking public release of records prior to Jan. 1 — reported that Beckloff’s ruling will not take effect until March 1, giving the union time to decide whether to pursue an appeal.
Various police unions across the state have been challenging the release of misconduct records — including cases such as shootings, use of force and sexual assault by officers — contending that SB 1421 pertains only to cases that occurred after Jan. 1, when the law took effect.
According to The Times, a judge in Ventura County last week sided with a sheriff’s deputies’ union and granted a preliminary injunction blocking public release of records prior to Jan. 1. But a judge in Contra Costa County ruled against law-enforcement unions and sided with advocates and media groups seeking the release of the older records.
The various rulings likely mean the issue will wind up being decided by the state Supreme Court.
Beckloff’s ruling, which was provided on a tentative basis to attorneys in the case on Friday, states that the “unambiguous language (of the law) demonstrations the operation of SB 1421 has nothing to do with the date on which a personnel record was created — it applies to all records,” The Times reported.