California Senate Passes SB 1421, Senator Nancy Skinner’s Protecting Communities and Law Enforcement Bill

May 30, 2018

California Senate Passes SB 1421, Senator Nancy Skinner’s Protecting Communities and Law Enforcement Bill

Today, with bipartisan support, the California State Senate passed SB 1421, Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) “Protecting Communities and Law Enforcement” legislation. SB 1421 would open the door for a limited set of records related to a law enforcement officer’s use of serious force, on the job sexual assault, or dishonesty to be available to the public. Skinner’s bill must now pass the Assembly and be signed by Governor Brown to become law.

“California is an outlier when it comes to providing public access to law enforcement records” said Senator Skinner. “SB 1421 is a sunshine ordinance that will help build trust and accountability.” 

California’s existing confidentiality rules on law enforcement records, which SB 1421 would modify, are among the most secretive in the country. Under existing law, the public, and in some cases even hiring agencies, do not have access to internal reports or investigations into officer use of force. These restrictions erode public trust, and can allow officers with repeated incidents to bounce from agency-to-agency undetected.

Specifically, SB 1421 requires law enforcement agencies to provide public access to records related to:
1.    Discharge of a firearm, or use of force that results in death or serious bodily injury,
2.    On the job sexual assault, including coercion or exchanging sex for lenience, or 
3.    Dishonesty in reporting, investigating or prosecuting a crime.

“Law enforcement has never been better trained or better educated and incidents of officer misconduct are decreasing, yet distrust between many communities and law enforcement continues to grow,” said Senator Skinner. “Transparency can help build the trust so needed to keep our communities safe.” 

Senator Nancy Skinner (@NancySkinnerCA) represents the 9th Senate District. She serves as Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary.