Despite convincing state lawmakers that permitting public access to police disciplinary files would endanger lives, law enforcement advocacy groups have been unable to identify a single case in which an officer had been harmed because of the release of such information, reports the Los Angeles Times. Police officers lined up to warn a legisaltive committee that releasing the names of those accused of misconduct would put their lives in jeopardy.
The argument essentially killed a bill that would have provided access to disciplinary records, such as when officers use excessive force, lie in court or make racial slurs. Committee chairman Jose Solorio he said he had been told of “numerous examples” where the release of an officer’s identity in a discipline case directly led to officers and their families being harmed. When asked to cite one such case, however, Solorio could not. “It’s really an effective tactic,” said Thomas W. Newton, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. “When you don’t have good arguments on the policy, you have to resort to fear, intimidation and in this case threats.”