California Reporting Project

Paso Robles Police Department

The California Legislature is back in session for 2020, and in the pipeline is a bill aimed at increasing police transparency. It's based upon an alleged sexual assault case involving a former Paso Robles police officer and the refusal of local law enforcement to hand over internal investigation records. 

On this week's episode of Issues & Ideas, major newspapers and public radio stations across California—including KCBX—are collaborating on a statewide project to look at personnel records from local enforcement agencies. 

Greta Mart/KCBX

On New Year's Day, 2019, a new state law went into effect. SB 1421 insists that California police departments let the public see formerly-confidential misconduct records. Since then, more than 35 California newspapers and public radio stations—including KCBX—have joined forces to request those records. 

Even with new disclosure law, fight continues to unseal California’s secret police files

Mar 19, 2019
Aric Crabb / Bay Area News Group

One had sex in the front seat of his squad car, another stole thousands of bullets. Others used force illegally, cavorted with sex workers, lied in reports and trumped up charges.

None of those police officers were prosecuted.

These are just some of the revelations made public in the first months of a new state of police transparency in California. A new state law, Senate Bill 1421, broke down a wall of secrecy built up since the 1970s that blocked public access to the most serious police misconduct and deadly use-of-force information.