Watch: FAC & KPCC discussion on law enforcement and transparency:

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[quote]Gardena. Ferguson. Baltimore. Controversial officer-involved shootings in these cities have drawn massive media attention to the tension between the public’s need for police accountability and its desire for its own privacy. Access to public records – especially those of law enforcement – is an increasingly a source of confusion and conflict between citizens and government agencies.[/quote]
KPCC – Pulling Back the Blue Curtain: When should we have access to police records?

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KPCC’s crime and public safety correspondent Frank Stoltze moderated the lively, sometimes heated, discussion among the panel of law-enforcement access experts as they addressed the issues of privacy, transparency and access to police records. The event, presented by FAC and KPCC – Southern California Public Radio, took place on Thurs., July 16 at the Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena.

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“When it comes to police investigative records, they are 100 percent exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act. But the police have the discretion, if they wish, to release them. So why not in some of these cases release these videos, at the discretion of the department, where the public’s need to know is compelling? Then the public will have a chance to see what really goes on,” said Peter Scheer, Executive Director of the First Amendment Coalition.

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“We need some rules, we need direction. What is good cause for release, etc. Similar to other judicial processes in case for personnel records, I think we need a process for videos,” said Mildred O’Linn, Partner with Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP; section leader for Electronic Control Weapons matters within the Governmental Entity Liability Team. “My officers do not deserve to be hung, judged in the media, and endangered without full information,” O’Linn said.

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“The L.A. Sheriff is viewing access to police records as a way to build public trust. We’re moving towards transparency. More access. Real access. It’s a good faith effort, to properly balance public safety against all the factors of democracy,” said Neal Tyler from L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said their new website will provide some aggregate data on use of force incident.

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“A parent can never know if an officer was disciplined for beating up their child. And that’s a problem,”Rochelle L. Wilcox, Partner and Vice Chair of Appellate Litigation Practice with Davis, Wright, Tremaine LLP,  said. “The public is entitled to evaluate that information and statutes prohibit that, and our position is that it needs to be changed. With allegations that have substance to them, there’s no reason why the public shouldn’t be able to get that to make sure the police department is doing its job.”

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Jeff Steck, President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) most police departments are not against releasing videos, but want their release to be within reason. “I think (releasing) videos will have to be taken on a case-by-case basis,” he said,  “and it will be complicated. I think there should be a reasonable approach to cameras. I saw an officer get murdered on camera. If that happens to me, I don’t want my death on TV.”

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“The L.A. Sheriff is viewing access to police records as a way to build public trust. We’re moving towards transparency. More access. Real access. It’s a good faith effort, to properly balance public safety against all the factors of democracy,” said Neal Tyler from L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.  He added that their new website will provide some aggregate data on use of force incident.

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