A judge Friday ordered the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to promptly turn over records on thousands of cases of deputy misconduct and on-duty shootings after finding the agency had failed repeatedly to honor a public records request filed by the Los Angeles Times.
The department has 90 days to turn over records first sought by the newspaper in 2019, shortly after passage of a landmark police transparency law that made public previously confidential records about law enforcement officers, The Times reported.
Under the law, Senate Bill 1421, shootings or other serious uses of force by officers, as well as confirmed cases of sexual assaults or acts of dishonesty by police, must be disclosed.
The Times requested records on all cases that fell within the scope of the new law and, under the state’s public records law, the department was required to provide them.
However, while the department has identified more than 6,000 incidents that likely fall under the law, it was slow to begin producing records and then handed over files on only a small fraction of the incidents. The Times sued for the release of the records last year.
“This `We’ll get it done when we’ll get it done’ (approach) is not acceptable under the Public Records Act,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said in court Friday, The Times reported.
Beckloff said the sheriff’s department had engaged in “consistent feet dragging,” according to The Times. Considering the pace at which the department was releasing records, Beckloff said it would have taken decades for the sheriff’s department to comply with The Times’ request, according to The Times.
An attorney representing Los Angeles County said in court Friday that Beckloff’s order to release the remaining records within 90 days was unrealistic, The Times reported.
There was no immediate response to an email sent by City News Service to the sheriff’s department seeking comment on the ruling.