Re-Open CA Files On Police Discipline, L.A. Times Argues


Public confidence in the police depends in large part on the ability to know when an officer’s conduct has been called into serious question, editorializes the Los Angeles Times. The paper calls the California Supreme Court ruling last month that shut off public access to police disciplinary proceedings disappointing and “a mistake that lawmakers should rectify as soon as possible.” In the Times’s view, “officers, while putting their lives on the line each day, have the power of life and death over the people they serve, so their interest in privacy must take a back seat to the public interest in monitoring their behavior.”

The court ruled that police discipline is a personnel matter, exempt from disclosure. The ruling prevents access to officer records in civil service appeals of disciplinary action. The Los Angeles Police Commission, while promising more openness, has quietly begun deleting the names of officers involved in use-of-force cases. The legislature should reinstate the presumption in favor of public access, the Times says: “Allowing citizens to find out who fired a weapon, and under what circumstances, and whether, why and how discipline was imposed, is as essential to public safety as the officers who protect us every day.”


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