Governor Signs Policing Transparency Measures into Law

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.

Cementing the final criminal justice components of his legacy of his Governorship, which spreads over two separate eight-year reigns, Governor Jerry Brown signed various public safety transparency bills on the day of his deadline to do so. The bills include the release of non-investigative body cam audio and video footage within 45 days, public inspection of peace officer personnel records, and upfront loading of all materials that would be requested via PRA to an agency’s website. There were some law enforcement victories, however, but there is no doubt that a new era in policing in California is about to begin.

The Legislature finished the 2018 session on August 31st, and Governor Brown had until midnight on September 30th to act on bills passed to desk. After waves of climate change and business reform measures, he finally acted on public safety legislation on the day of his deadline. Since August 31st CPOA had been lobbying his office to veto several poor public policy bills, and sign into law several bills that would keep criminal activity at bay. Public sentiment won the day, however, and several bills that will change policing in California were signed into law.

The new 2019 laws that CPOA opposed in 2018 include:

AB 748 (Ting-D): Commencing July 1, 2019 an audio or video recording that relates to a critical incident must be released to the public within 45 days the footage is not part of an active criminal or administrative investigation.

SB 978 (Bradford-D): Starting January 1, 2020, POST and all local agencies must post on their website all current standards, policies, practices, operating procedures, and education and training materials that would otherwise be released via a PRA request.

SB 1421 (Skinner-D): Records, reports, investigations or findings may be subject to PRA disclosure if they involve discharge of a firearm, an OIS, incidents of deadly force or SBI, or incidents of sustained sexual assault or dishonesty by a peace officer.

SB 1437 (Skinner-D): Limits first degree murder liability for homicide participants who did not “strike the blow.”

The above measures had strong criminal justice reform groups support, and they are part of a criminal justice legacy of rehabilitation and compassion that Governor Brown wishes to leave behind. Unfortunately, the communities of California that CPOA’s member serve may be made less safe by hamstringing departments to conform to these new laws.

2018 will not end without a few law enforcement victories though. CPOA and our public safety partners associations were able to secure retired peace officer firearms exemptions (AB 1192), reclassification of hydrocodone products (AB 2783), and the fusion of cannabis and alcoholic beverages (AB 2914). Adversely, we were able to defeat the creation of safe injection sites (AB 186), after-hours alcohol sales (SB 905), governing body approval of agency surveillance use (SB 1186) and law enforcement acquisition of military surplus equipment (AB 3131).

These 2019 laws and more will be analyzed and the impact to the profession conveyed at our Capitol to Communities: Legislative Impact classes in December and January throughout California. The future of policing in California will also be forecast, and the solutions CPOA provides through our advocacy and leadership development.

Advocacy APB! posts will return in January 2019 when the 2019-20 Legislature convenes.