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Ca. A.G. reverses stance on SB 1421, will allow release of state records

Documents from prior to 2019 will be available to the public
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Posted at 4:15 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 12:54:08-04

The California attorney general has reversed his decision to block the release of state Department of Justice records from prior to Jan. 1, 2019 as part of Senate Bill 1421, citing a recent Superior Court ruling.

Attorney General Xavaier Becerra made the major announcement Friday afternoon, stating that documents relating to peace officers employed by the D.O.J. from before 2019 are not exempt from being released under SB 1421 and the California Public Records Act.

"Transparency and accountability in policing are fundamental components to building safe and secure communities for all Californians," according to Becerra in a release sent out Friday afternoon. "With this court's ruling, my office now has much of the clarity we have sought in our efforts to appropriately follow the letter of the law. At the California Department of Justice, we know that the work does not stop here, and we will continue our efforts to strengthen the trust that must exist between peace officers and those they serve."

The announcement comes after a number of previous court filings submitted by the D.O.J., claiming SB 1421 should apply to records from both before and after Jan. 1, 2019.*

Law enforcement in Bakersfield and Kern County started releasing records from before 2019 back in April, but that decision came after a somewhat brief legal speed bump.

In March, the Bakersfield Police Officers Association -- a union representing local officers -- filed a legal request to stop the release of those prior records, and a judge initially issued a temporary restraining order it the union's favor.

The BPOA dropped its request a month later, allowing the release of those documents to the public based on requests.

*CORRECTION: This article originally stated that the state D.O.J. claimed SB 1421 should only apply to records from after Jan. 1, 2019.