Thursday, July 9, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 19

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 22nd, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 12 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 12

Santa Maria to release police misconduct records


After various court rulings across the state, the city of Santa Maria plans to release police misconduct records in compliance with a new California law that aims to make investigations into police misconduct more transparent.

The law, Senate Bill 1421, went into effect on Jan. 1 and requires police departments to release public records relating to some specified incidents, complaints, and investigations involving officers, in accordance with the California Public Records Act.

Jurisdictions across the state, including the Santa Maria Police Department, have refused to release police misconduct records regarding incidents that occurred prior to Jan. 1, citing confusion over whether the law is retroactive. A number of others are challenging the law in court.

On March 29, the California Court of Appeals released its first decision on the issue in Walnut Creek Police Officers’ Association v. City of Walnut Creek. In the case, the court denied the police union’s petitions to limit the law to records created after Jan. 1 of this year.

On May 17, a San Francisco judge handed down a similar decision to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, ruling that Becerra’s office must turn over misconduct records involving police officers and sheriff deputies across the state, including those made prior to Jan. 1.

After the Walnut Creek ruling, Santa Maria Public Information Manager Mark van de Kamp said the city decided it would release police misconduct records created prior to Jan. 1. The records, he said, will be released once they have been reviewed by staff.

“The city is in the process of compiling and reviewing its responsive documents now,” van de Kamp wrote in an email to the Sun. “The city should be able to release the first documents within a few weeks.”

Weekly Poll
What'd you make of the county's decision to close beaches for the Fourth of July weekend?

It was sensible since counties to the south closed their beaches.
I was OK with it. I set off fireworks at home instead.
It was ridiculous. The restrictions have to stop.
It didn't matter. I went to SLO County.

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