California has one of the most stringent laws in the nation to protect the privacy of police officers. The Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights was first passed in 1976 and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown during his first term.
The statute makes it challenging for the public to find out which officers have engaged in misconduct. It also presents challenges when a law enforcement agency wants to alert local prosecutors to which individual officers have a history of discipline and dishonesty, like last year when the Los Angeles County sheriff was blocked from sharing a list of 300 problem deputies with the district attorney.
Professor Erwin Chemerinsky is a constitutional law scholar and the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law. He recently wrote an op-ed in The Sacramento Bee on the statutes and court cases that make it rare for police misconduct to result in criminal prosecution.