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A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. Thank you very much! Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.
We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content. Government being open, transparent and able to the people it serves is a core tenet of democracy.
For nearly four decades, California was failing to live up to this standard in an area where it matters greatly: actions by our law enforcement officers. SinceCalifornia law has shielded important information about police misconduct and use of force from public view, even as concerns over police misconduct and shootings grew here and in the rest of the country. Similar bills like it had been introduced at least two times before, with neither succeeding in the Legislature.
Fortunately, our former governor Jerry Brown ed SB into law last fall. The appalling revelation came because, on Jan. After obtaining the records allowed under SBthe San Mateo County district attorney considered reopening a criminal case against that officer for his actions.
The public has bestowed on our law enforcement officers the authority to detain, arrest and use force on members of the public.
As such, the public has a right to know when police use and abuse these powers, as was the case with the allegations against the former Burlingame officer. Californians also have a right to know if their local police department and other ability systems are doing a good job holding officers able when they violate the law or department rules.
SB restored this important public right to know. This commonsense law also brought California in line with other states that already had these transparency measures in place.
In fact, nearly 27 other states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Texas, already make peace officer disciplinary records available in some form and have not experienced negative impacts on public safety as a result. Police departments were also forbidden from sharing the factual findings in investigations of police shootings.
It is no surprise that under these circumstances, trust in law enforcement was tarnished — particularly within low-income communities, communities of color and other marginalized groups. I honor that service and have great respect for the men and women who have sworn to serve and protect us. My hope is that the public and law enforcement ultimately see SB for what it is: an opportunity for us to come together, have open and honest conversations, strengthen our democracy and find solutions that work to truly keep our officers and our communities safe.
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