LAPD, ACLU Reach Settlement in Public Records Act Lawsuit
LAPD Agrees to Requirements Significantly Beyond the CPRA
The Los Angeles Police Department and the American Civil Liberties Union settled a lawsuit brought last week that alleged widespread and systemic violations of the California Public Records Act by the LAPD. As part of the settlement, the LAPD has agreed to not only adhere to the CPRA, but also to undertake several actions aimed at increasing public access to its records significantly beyond those required under the CPRA.
California lawmakers sometimes look to local policy shifts like these — especially those involving larger agencies like the LAPD — as a roadmap for expanding existing laws. Thus, it is important for law enforcement agencies throughout the State to monitor these types of policy changes for trends in where the law may be headed.
Here are a few key points from the settlement agreement:
- The LAPD will adopt, maintain and enforce an administrative policy, procedure and protocol regarding LAPD’s compliance with the CPRA.
- The LAPD will adopt an “LAPD CPRA Unit Manual” consistent with an order made as part of the settlement agreement. The Manual will instruct the LAPD on how to properly respond to requests made under the CPRA.
- The LAPD will maintain an online public records portal that will allow the public to not only submit public records requests, but also to view requests made by others and download documents produced in response to previous requests.
- The LAPD will proactively post online and keep current its special orders and policy manual, statistical reports made to the California Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, jail booking data and several other categories of records.
- The LAPD will make all reasonable efforts to preserve several kinds of records listed in the agreement, including, use-of-force investigation records and officer-involved shooting files, which may be subject to disclosure under Senate Bill 1421, enacted last year. The agreement does not specify how long the LAPD must retain these records. If the LAPD is required to retain these records indefinitely based the agreement, this provision would be one of the most expansive provisions because it would greatly extend any obligations under the CPRA and state document-retention laws.
- The LAPD will undergo annual audits for 5 years following execution of the agreement. The audit will monitor the LAPD’s compliance with the CPRA and the terms of the agreement. Moreover, the LAPD will be required to publish the audit online and present it to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners each year.
For more information about this settlement and CPRA issues, please contact the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s ARC: Advanced Records Center, or your BB&K attorney.
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