Capitol Beat – High-Priority Bills on PORAC’s Radar

Aaron Read and Randy Perry
Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

The second half of the 2017–18 legislative session is in full swing. Over 1,000 bills carried over from last year, in addition to the more than 2,000 new bills that were introduced and the hundreds more that have been amended. We are in the process of reviewing each of the new and amended bills and determining their impact on PORAC. As always, we will keep you updated in the weeks to come. In the meantime, below are a few of PORAC’s high-priority bills that will be on the forefront of our legislative efforts. 

PORAC-Sponsored Bill

AB 3091, RIPA Amendments, by Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego): Assembly Member Weber’s 2016 bill, AB 953, created the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) under the Department of Justice (DOJ), which mandates that all law enforcement agencies report certain “stop data” to the DOJ. The Act also created a RIPA Board that is tasked with developing the type of data and the guidelines surrounding the collection of that data. The RIPA Board is made up of 14 members appointed by legislative leaders and the Attorney General. In addition, the Board has named members, including PORAC, California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association and the CAHP. Law enforcement makes up four of the 14 members. Other named organizations are community, professional, academic, research, and civil and human rights organizations.

Over the past year and a half, the RIPA Board has been meeting throughout the state and has reported its findings and recommendations on the stop data to the AG. The AG has approved those regulations, and the initial agencies have begun to collect the stop data.

Throughout the process, PORAC has voiced its concerns with various parts of the regulations to no avail. However, one component of the regulations deals with the assignment of a “unique identifying number” to each officer providing stop data to their agency for the RIPA report. Because both the local agency’s report and the aggregate DOJ report is public information, PORAC believes that the unique identifying number for each officer could be subject to the California Public Records Act (CPRA).  Although in the final regulations created by the AG’s office, they attempted to protect the unique identifier, AB 953 does not sufficiently protect that information.

PORAC is sponsoring legislation this year that will clarify the intent of AB 953 that individual officers not be identified through the data provided for the RIPA report. PORAC’s legislation simply states that the “unique identifying number shall not be subject to the California Public Records Act.”

PORAC-Opposed Bills

AB 284, Reporting of Officer-Involved Shootings, by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento): This bill inserts the California Department of Justice (DOJ) into the process of studying peace officer-involved shootings resulting in death or serious injury. Initially, Assembly Member McCarty introduced AB 86, which sought to have the AG set up three offices around the state to investigate such incidents. PORAC, along with other law enforcement organizations, worked to defeat AB 86, but then Assembly Member McCarty introduced a new bill, AB 284. AB 284 requires the AG to do a study of past actions to determine whether there is a need for change. AB 284 has been stalled; however, it is not dead. We will update you as information becomes available. 

AB 748, Disclosure of Video and Audio Recordings: Peace Officers, by Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco): AB 748 requires the release of body-camera footage within 120 days, regardless of whether there is still an active, ongoing investigation, disallowing the use of redaction technology to obscure specific portions of the recording for law enforcement purposes and prohibiting the use of biometric technology on the video. PORAC, along with other law enforcement organizations, opposes this measure and will continue to fight it. As of this writing, AB 748 is still sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee; however, the issue is still very much alive. The sponsors, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA), are adamant about receiving this information and demand video and audio recordings as soon as they can get them. 

SB 1421, Criminal Procedure and Sentencing, by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley): This bill was recently introduced and is also sponsored by the ACLU and the CNPA. It is similar to SB 1286 (Leno, D-San Francisco) from 2016, but with some changes.

SB 1286 stated that after a complaint was sustained by the department, the investigatory files will be made public. SB 1421 states that those files will become public after the entire appeal process for the officer has been completed and if the officer’s complaint is sustained. The bill deals with the more serious types of complaints, such as discharge of a firearm, discharge of a Taser, blow to the head or neck, serious use of force resulting in death or serious injury, sexual assault, dishonesty, etc.

PORAC, CAHP and other law enforcement organizations are opposed to SB 1421 and will continue to work with the author to see if some type of agreement is possible in this area.