Senator Steven Bradford Introduces Bill on Posting of Police Policies and Manuals
On Tuesday, February 14th, 2017, Senator Steven Bradford introduced SB 345, a bill that would improve transparency and accountability of police agencies throughout California.
Senate Bill 345 requires state and local law enforcement agencies post all policies and manuals online. This means public policy manuals employee rules of conduct and disciplinary protocols, training materials and manuals, law enforcement bulletins, department general orders, directives and rules, use of force guidelines and procedures, Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) manuals and body camera policies on their publicly available website.
While certain agencies already provide this information, there is no uniformity across the state. Where the information is not made publicly available, the public must make a public records request to access this information
In discussing the need for the bill, Senator Bradford stated, "Law enforcement transparency is critical to building trust between the community and law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, the public has a strong right to know whether an agency is following its own policies and procedures. Where those law enforcement departments have made their training, policies and procedures publicly available online, the community and law enforcement agencies each benefit."
The California Public Defenders Association (CPDA), the sponsor of the measure, believes that making this information public is crucial in ensuring that the rights of the public are protected.
According to Susan Leff, a member of the CPDA legislative committee, “Providing access to these policies and procedures increases transparency by allowing members of the public to review policies and procedures that affect their encounters with local police. It also fosters better community relations by providing the public with information about each department's procedures. Additionally, online access permits each law enforcement agency to display its own innovative policies in areas such as crowd control, prohibition against biased policing and language access.
By posting these policies online, law enforcement agencies cut down staff time and resources necessary to respond to each and every CPRA request."
Senator Bradford added, "Given the rise in recording of law enforcement activities, this will ensure that individual citizens can see that law enforcement is operating consistent with their policies and procedures."