Bill would give access to details of police abuse probes | The Merced Sun-Star


California residents would have access to details of investigations involving wrongdoing by police officers and police shootings under a new bill introduced Friday in the state Legislature.

Supporters say the measure by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would improve transparency and public trust in law enforcement and bring California closer to Texas, Florida and other states where the public has more access to such records.

The bill comes in the wake of the fatal San Francisco police shooting of Mario Woods, which was caught on video and sparked protests.

“The public has a right to know when officers apply deadly force and when serious cases of misconduct have been confirmed,” Leno said in a statement. “Failing to disclose such important information can fuel mistrust within our communities and threaten public safety.”

An email to the California Peace Officers Association for comment was not immediately returned.

California generally blocks public access to any investigations that could be used in disciplinary action against an officer, according to Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which is co-sponsoring the bill along with the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

Leno’s office says Texas, Kentucky, Utah and some other states make peace officer records public when a department determines that an officer has engaged in misconduct. Some other states, including Florida, Ohio and Washington, make the records public regardless of the findings, the office says.

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