Bill Would Make Police Investigations Public

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At the state capital on Monday the topic in the Senate Chambers was transparency. Specifically, how to increase trust between law enforcement and the public. A newly proposed bill could change the privacy landscape in California.

At this point in time, in California, law enforcement personnel records are protected.

Senate Bill 1286 would change that, making investigations into police shootings and other serious uses of force, public.

Supporters say, it's a simple way to increase trust, but police say it puts them in danger.

It's a complex, and often tense topic, how to repair the relationship between police and the public.

Senate Bill 1286 would give the public more information.

Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco introduced the legislation.

"Our civil society doesn't exist without the hard work of law enforcement officers and that trust needs to be there between the community and law enforcement," said Leno.

The bill would release more information about police shootings and use of force investigations. It would also address officer misconduct and even dishonesty.

"The understanding being that when there is trust, safety follows," said Leno.

Not everyone agrees. The Sacramento Police Officer's Association says giving the public access to investigations is dangerous.

Timothy Davis, the President of the Sacramento Police Officer's Association says the union does not support the bill.

"We don't release those investigations until the process is completed, and when you start leaking information early it undermines the investigation process," said Davis.

With police distrust at an all time high, supporters of the bill say it's a way to hold law enforcement accountable.

Jim Ewert is with the California Newspaper's Association. He is among supporters of the bill.

"In order for law enforcement to do its job effectively, the public has to buy in," said Ewert. "They have to have that trust, and this goes a long way towards promoting that."

The police union says it wasn't asked to help with the construction of the bill.