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New California bill to make police misconduct records public

If one is ever stopped by a police officer, there is always a possibility that the officer may violate their constitutional rights. Some become victims of police misconduct when an officer uses excessive force during the arrest, or conducts an illegal search and seizure. However, it can be difficult for victims of police misconduct to prove that the officer acted inappropriately. New legislation may make it easier to find out information about police misconduct.

State Senator, Nancy Skinner, recently drafted Senate Bill 1421 that will require that internal investigations records stemming from incidents where an officer uses a weapon on someone, commits sexual assault or lies in a police report be unsealed 18 months after the incident occurred. But, personal information, including the officer's home address and family member names will not be included. The bill will be brought before the Assembly's Committee on Public Safety later this month.

Under current law, these records cannot be seen by the public without a court order. If this new bill becomes a law though, it will allow the public access to police records and hold law enforcement accountable for their actions.

Police unions are concerned that the bill will encourage people to take advantage of the information and sue police officers for alleged misconduct. Other groups are concerned that officers may be put in dangerous situations with the release of this private information. Nonetheless, many people support the transparency and feel that the new law will allow the public to see how thoroughly the police really investigated instances of misconduct.

Any time a police officer abuses his or her power, victims and their families may have a claim against the police department. To find out more, experienced police misconduct attorney can help.

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