On a 5 to 1 vote, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee approved SB776 which would introduce much-needed reforms related to allow review of peace officer personnel records related to abuses and crimes committed by officers in the supposed performance of their duties.
If enacted and signed into law, the bill would:
- Make every incident involving the use of force subject to disclosure;
- Remove the requirement that a complaint related to sexual assault or dishonesty be “sustained” following an investigation in order to be disclosed;
- Require disclosure of records related to sustained findings of wrongful arrests and wrongful searches;
- Force disclosure of records related to incidents involving prejudice or discrimination on the basis of specified protected classes;
- Mandate retention of all complaints currently in the possession of a department or agency;
- Compel disclosure of records relating to incidents in which an officer resigned before an investigation could be completed
- Prohibit assertion of attorney-client privilege to: prevent disclosure of information provided by the agency to its attorney, information discovered by the attorney in their investigation, and billing records related to the work done by the attorney;
- Impose a $1,000 civil fine for each day beyond 30 days that records subject to disclosure are not disclosed; and
- Award twice the amount of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for any member of the public who successfully files suit or the release of records.