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Editorial: About time, Becerra. You should have been releasing police discipline records all along.

The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Op Eds

After years of tolerating an unhealthy culture of police secrecy, the California Legislature finally showed some gumption last year by passing Senate Bill 1421. It requires law enforcement agencies to treat discipline records of officers who faced sustained allegations of misconduct as routinely available public records. The law took effect Jan. 1.

But state Attorney General Xavier Becerra chose to side with local agencies that refused to release records of misconduct that occurred before Jan. 1. They touted the police unions' argument that the law applies only to cases of misconduct from 2019 on. This ludicrous claim is easily refuted with a quick look at the legislative history of the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

Now, finally, Becerra has been forced to admit his foolishness by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard B. Ulmers, who agreed with other judges that the intent of Senate Bill 1421 is obvious. Here's what else is obvious: While Becerra says he accepts the ruling and will direct agencies to comply, his reputation will still be damaged when he starts releasing records. Even in a new era of police transparency, Becerra has signaled to officers who know better than to abuse their positions: He'll try to protect them even if it conflicts with the greater good.

(c)2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

 

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