LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Leaders of the union representing Los Angeles police officers said today they have decided against appealing a judge's ruling calling for the public release of internal department records on officer- misconduct cases.
Last week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff rejected a bid by the Los Angeles Police Protective League to prevent the release of such records from cases that occurred prior to Jan. 1, when a new state law took effect requiring the documents to be made public. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other counties by law-enforcement unions challenging the release of older records.
“As we have stated previously, we believe all police agencies should fully comply with the eligible requests for records,” according to a statement released Tuesday by the LAPPL. “Our concern was strictly limited to protecting the privacy rights of officers for records created prior to the effective date of SB 1421. We will await any future court decisions from various cases being heard throughout the state on this matter.”
The union added: “The reality is that any officer with a sustained complaint of sexual assault, or lying in an official capacity, is highly likely to not be employed by the Los Angeles Police Department any longer due to our robust discipline process. Rightly so.”
The union also noted that the LAPD already publicly releases videos of “critical incidents” such as officer-involved shootings and recommendations by the police chief relating to serious uses of force.
“None of this will change because of SB 1421,” according to the union.
Various police unions across the state have been challenging the release of misconduct records -- including cases such as shootings, use of force and sexual assault by officers -- contending that SB 1421 pertains only to cases that occurred after Jan. 1, when the law took effect.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a judge in Ventura County recently sided with a sheriff's deputies' union and granted a preliminary injunction blocking public release of records prior to Jan. 1. But a judge in Contra Costa County ruled against law-enforcement unions and sided with advocates and media groups seeking the release of the older records.
The various rulings likely mean the issue will wind up being decided by the state Supreme Court.
Photo: Getty Images