It's as secretive as it is controversial, says the Sacramento Bee. California prosecutors keep a list of police officers they say have credibility issues which, if brought up during court testimony, could damage a criminal case. The existence of such compilations – called “Brady lists” – has largely been kept from public view. The practice is now a topic of debate at the Capitol as the state's powerful police unions take on law enforcement leaders over when and how the list can be used in disciplinary decisions.
Prosecutors place officers on the Brady list for various reasons – including use of excessive force and falsifying reports – depending on the policies adopted at each county's district attorney's office. “The public has a right to have a high degree of trust in their police departments and law enforcement officers,” said Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. “If an officer gets on that list, theoretically they've violated that trust, which renders them less credible to take the stand.” But union officials say off-duty issues, including driving under the influence convictions or misdemeanor arrests that don't lead to charges, have increasingly – and unfairly – landed officers on the list. “It's a growing list of conduct that is entirely at the discretion of prosecutors,” said Christopher Miller, a police labor attorney in Sacramento.