Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch on Friday ordered the city of Oakland, California, and its police department to release thousands of documents on police misconduct. This order was issued pursuant to a request made by journalists two years ago, following the California Legislature’s passage of a police transparency law.
Two years ago, journalists requested that the city of Oakland and its police department release documents on police misconduct. These records were requested following the California Legislature’s enactment of Senate Bill 1421. The law requires the disclosure of records on police shootings, use of excessive force and confirmed instances of lying. It allows redaction only to remove personal data information other than the names and work-related information of the officers.
The journalists sued after not receiving the information, claiming that the police department regularly disregarded the California Public Records Act by not issuing the information in a timely manner and “thwarting transparency.” The Oakland police department reportedly has a backlog of almost 6,000 information requests that it has not fulfilled since the passage of the police transparency law.
On Friday, Judge Roesch ordered the police department to begin releasing documents every two weeks, giving the city and police department six months to release all of the requested documents. If the requesters challenge any redactions made by the city or police department, they must do so in 30 days. Then, the department must disclose or justify the redaction within two weeks, or else the documents could by evaluated by counsel and a judge.
On his order, Roesch said that the department had a legal obligation, and that “Promptly means promptly. Under the circumstances of more than two years having gone by, clearly ‘promptly’ has passed.”