Speed Reads

criminal justice reform

California just passed two new laws to hold police officers more accountable

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Sunday signed two new laws intended to make investigations of police misconduct more transparent to the public.

Senate Bill 1421 gives the public access to internal departmental investigations of police shootings and other professional misconduct, like violence, sexual assault, and deception. Assembly Bill 748 is the state's first significant regulation of police body cameras, requiring departments to make public any audio or video of serious misconduct cases within 45 days of the incident unless doing so would undermine an active investigation.

"Unfortunately, over the years, we the people have been stripped of the power to oversee and hold law enforcement accountable for their use — and abuse — of these powers," said Peter Bibring of the American Civil Liberties Union of California. "Having an open government that is accountable to the people it serves is not merely an ideal to strive for; it is a necessity to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our families and communities," he added. "Nowhere is that more apparent than in policing."