Sacramento – The Assembly Public Safety Committee refused to vote on SB 1019 today, dealing a serious blow to efforts to restore police accountability in California. Earlier this month, SB 1019 (D-Romero) was passed in the state Senate in a 22-11 vote, despite threats by police associations of torpedoing unrelated term limit reform if the bill was passed.
SB 1019 would have overturned the state Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Copley Press v. San Diego, which blocked public access to records about police complaints and effectively stopped police commissions from holding open hearings.
“By not even allowing a vote on this important bill, the Assembly Public Safety Committee has given the police unions exactly what they want: a cloak of secrecy over police misconduct and a lack of public accountability,” said Mark Schlosberg, Police Practices Policy Director of the ACLU-NC. “By remaining silent our elected officials favored police secrecy over the public interest. “
SB 1019 would have restored the law to the pre-Copley status quo, allowing local jurisdictions to create or revive open police review processes, some of which had been open for over 30 years, prior to the decision. It also would have allowed certain information to be discussed closed-door if there is concern that the release of the information would endanger an officer’s safety or operational security.
“Community members have the right to know how policing is being conducted in their neighborhoods, this is the first step towards building trust between communities and law enforcement and more effective public safety,” said Maya Harris, executive director of the ACLU-NC. “By not standing up for government transparency and police accountability, the Assembly Public Safety Committee has done a great disservice to the public trust.”
SB 1019 has garnered widespread support from a diverse array of individuals and organizations. Supporters include, Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker, San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, the National Black Police Association, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights.
For more information on restoring public oversight of police, please visit our webpage on the issue.