Local police officer unions have sued eight police departments in San Diego County and the department’s police chiefs in hopes of preventing the implementation of a new law that requires the release of police-misconduct and use-of-force records.
The unions are asking a state court judge to stop enforcing the law until a legal challenge is litigated.
Senate Bill 1421 went into effect January 1, 2019. The new law requires all law enforcement agencies in California to make internal investigations available to the public. That includes records from investigations into an officer’s use of force, alleged sexual misconduct, or investigations into whether an officer was dishonest.
On Monday, Police Officer Associations representing Carlsbad, Coronado, El Cajon, Harbor Patrol, National City, Oceanside, San Diego, and San Diego Schools filed the lawsuit against their corresponding cities and police chiefs.
According to the lawsuit, the unions say the law should only apply to investigations that take place after January 1, 2019.
State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) told NBC 7 Investigates that the law should be honored and that the records be made available to the public.
“This bill was an amendment to the public records act, the act does not deal with dates,” Skinner said. “If a record exists and it falls in the category of releasable information, then it is disclosable.”
NBC 7 Investigates has filed requests for these records with every law enforcement agency in San Diego County. Some city police departments, including Escondido and Carlsbad, have already released records from investigations dating back ten years.
The case will go before a San Diego Superior Court Judge on Tuesday, February 5.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties. According to the Los Angeles Times, Judges there granted temporary restraining orders blocking the departments from publicly disclosing these records.
The lawsuit filed by the police officer union representing Los Angeles Police, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, is also expected to be heard on Tuesday, February 5.