Courtesy of James R. Touchstone, Esq.

On January 3, 2019, the Division of Law Enforcement of the California Department of Justice released an information bulletin pertaining to the preservation of peace officer and custodial officer records. The bulletin notified all state law enforcement agencies of guidelines regarding retention requirements pursuant to changes due to Senate Bill 1421 (“SB 1421”).  The California Attorney General’s Office instructed law enforcement agencies to “preserve all records” that may be subject to disclosure beginning January 1, 2019 pursuant to changes in Penal Code section 832.7 as a result Senate Bill 1421.

Specifically, law enforcement agencies were instructed as follows:

“You should preserve all applicable files currently stored in paper files either onsite or in a remote location.  You should also preserve any and all electronically stored information, including databases, electronic data files, hard drives, on- and offline storage devices, backups, logs, archives, personal computers, and portable devices, and other removable and non-removable media, and electronic mail and attachments to electronic mail, pertaining to both records and preservation of records, including but not limited to electronic mail regarding potential destruction of covered information.”

Click here for a complete copy of the DOJ bulletin on this issue.


As we noted in October’s Client Alert Vol. 33 No. 33, police department employees and city clerks should be aware of and updated on SB 1421 requirements because police departments will need to carefully identify disclosable and redactable information and city clerks will need to comply with the appropriate timeframes for notices, updates and disclosures.  The ultimate effects of this legislation remain to be seen with respect to its interplay with POBRA statutes, including whether SB 1421 requirements should be applied retroactively.  The latter issue of retroactivity currently is the subject of multiple legal challenges.  The California Supreme Court has declined to decide the issue of retroactivity at the current time.  However, as mentioned, there are several legal challenges pending before superior courts on this issue.

As always, if you wish to discuss this matter in greater detail, please feel free to contact me at (714) 446–1400 or via email at

Information on is for general use and is not legal advice.  The mailing of this Client Alert Memorandum is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client-relationship.