SAN FRANCISCO – Today, a judge authorized the release of all records of San Francisco police officers involved in shootings, killings and other serious misconduct, as legally required under SB 1421.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC) had gone to court to thwart the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association’s efforts to defy the historic transparency bill by refusing to release records of previously secret internal police investigations of officer misconduct.
Law enforcement agencies across the state have refused to follow the law, claiming that it was not retroactive. The San Francisco police union filed a lawsuit that temporarily prevented public access to most of the records, but then asked to have it dismissed, and agreed that the records could be released.
San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman has now authorized the public release of all the records in question regardless of when they were created. Law enforcement agencies can only withhold those records that the current law protects from disclosure.
“We’re happy to see the records released so we can get answers for our families,” said Kathleen Guneratne, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, which has been advocating on behalf of people whose loved ones were killed by the police. “It’s time for police unions to stop filing frivolous lawsuits and let the law take effect.”
The background of our opposition can be viewed here.