2018 Police Shooting Database

Fatal Force


people have been shot and killed by police in 2018

Updated Jan. 25 at 2:55 p.m.

Search the database





Mental illness


Body camera

Fleeing the scene

998 people shot and killed by police

An unidentified person, an 18-year-old man armed with a knife, was shot on Dec. 31, 2018, in Van Nuys, Calif.



Unknown race

18 to 29

No/unknown mental illness


Body cam recording

Not fleeing

Jesus Ramos, a 34-year-old Hispanic man, was shot on Dec. 31, 2018, in Longmont, Colo.




30 to 44

Mental illness

Weapon unknown

No body cam recording

Fleeing by foot

1 of 998

987 people were fatally shot by police in 2017

As of a week ago, there this year than at the same time last year.

Fatal police shootings by year



Where the 2018 shootings took place

Each marks the location of a deadly shooting.

Shootings per million people




There are 74 shootings with unverified locations that are not shown on the map.

The Washington database contains records of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty since Jan. 1, 2015.

In 2015, The Post began tracking more than a dozen details about each killing — including the race of the deceased, the circumstances of the shooting, whether the person was armed and whether the person was experiencing a mental-health crisis — by culling local news reports, law enforcement websites and social media, and by monitoring independent databases such as Killed by Police and Fatal Encounters. The Post conducted additional reporting in many cases.

The Post is documenting only those shootings in which a police officer, in the line of duty, shoots and kills a civilian — the circumstances that most closely parallel the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which began the protest movement culminating in Black Lives Matter and an increased focus on police accountability nationwide. The Post is not tracking deaths of people in police custody, fatal shootings by off-duty officers or non-shooting deaths.

The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention log fatal shootings by police, but officials acknowledge that their data is incomplete. Since 2015, The Post has documented more than twice as many fatal shootings by police as recorded on average annually.

The Post’s database is updated regularly as fatal shootings are reported and as facts emerge about individual cases. The Post seeks to make the database as comprehensive as possible. To provide information about fatal police shootings since Jan. 1, 2015, send us an email at policeshootingsfeedback@washpost.co

January 25, 2018, Washington Post, “2018 Police Shooting Database”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/police-shootings-2018/?utm_term=.e6dc19903119



A Case Study on Police Misconduct in the United States of America and an Applicable Model for the Turkish National Police.

This study explores the underlying causes and deterrent control mechanisms of police misconduct in the United States. Outcomes of causes and control mechanisms constitute the basis for an applicable model for the Turkish National Police (TNP). Why is some police behavior deviate? What are the main determinants of police misconduct? Is police misconduct a result of sociological behavior and subcultural development within police organizations or a psychological behavior as an outcome of officers’ personal traits? What are the control mechanisms for police misconduct? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they deter or not? Is there a control mechanism that … continued below


Lofca, Izzet August 2002., https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3234/

a case study on police misconduct in usa



Dallas Citizen’s Police Review Board Wants More Power: ‘There Is Little We Can Do’

by Erin Jones | CBS 11


DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – About 200 people attended a town hall meeting, hosted by the Citizen Police Review Board, where Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall was a speaker.

“There is no secret that I do support restructuring of this board,” Hall said.

The board was created almost 40 years ago to give residents a place to voice their concerns about police misconduct.

Members say in order to do their job effectively, change needs to happen.

“There is little that we can do,” Chairman of the City of Dallas’ Citizen’s Police Review Board Dr. Brian H. Williams said.

Williams said right now, all the board can do is review police complaints and make recommendations.

“The hope is moving forward that we can empower the board and make it more efficient and effective to serve the needs of the public,” he said.

Thursday he presented what the board itself wants to see.

“We need a staff – period.” Williams said. “We have no staff now. We have no budget. We have limited subpoena authorities.”

Williams said the board is made up entirely of volunteers. He said the board can subpoena witnesses, but not police and that needs to change.

“In order to get to all the facts, the board must have some avenue to get all the information,” Williams said.

The community weighed in.

“How do you make sure that people who make the complaints feel safe enough to trust you?” one woman said at the town hall meeting.

“My concern is that you’re being appointed by someone voted into office,” another woman said.

“We do need a review board that has subpoena power. Too many people have died and lost their lives,” another man said.

“This is a step in the right direction to ensure that you have the kind of trust in us that makes us the best police department in the country,” Hall said.

There are several more town hall meetings planned during the next couple of weeks across Dallas.

The goal is to give all communities the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Erin Jones | CBS 11, , “Dallas Citizen’s Police Review Board Wants More Power: ‘There Is Little We Can Do’”, https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2019/01/03/dallas-citizens-police-review-board-power/

California high court cans cop union’s attempt to block new law requiring police misconduct records disclosure


The California Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to clarify whether a new state law requiring California law enforcement agencies to make police misconduct records public applies to misconduct that took place before the new law went into effect on Jan. 1 — whether the law is retroactive.

Since the high court will not weigh the retroactivity issue, it also declined to issue an injunction against the enforcement of the law, as was also requested.

The upshot: California law enforcement agencies will have to begin fulfilling requests made by the public, the media or anyone else who asks for them. If police departments want to challenge the way retroactivity applies to the law, that will have to be decided in lower courts, on an individual basis — a lawsuit over the matter was filed in Los Angeles County on Dec. 31. If lower court decisions on the matter are appealed, the California Supreme Court could eventually be forced to rule on the matter.

More: San Bernardino County sheriff’s union sues to block new state transparency law requiring release of misconduct records

The lawsuit was filed by a union representing San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies, and was intended to leapfrog lower courts and get a statewide ruling directly from the state’s highest court.

The recently-enacted law, SB 1421, requires police departments to make public internal investigation records regarding officers’ use of force, sexual assault and lying on reports.

However, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association, which represents deputies from the county’s sheriff’s department, asked the court on Dec. 18 to determine whether Senate Bill 1421 should be applied by the departments retroactively.

Mike Rains, the union’s attorney, said in a statement that the court issued a summary denial without explanation.

“The Court’s action was simply a decision to decline to exercise its original jurisdiction in this matter,” Rains said in the statement. “The Court did not adjudicate the merits of the case, nor did it issue any legal precedent regarding the issues raised.”

The court also denied the union’s motion to delay the implementation of the transparency bill until the retroactivity issue is adjudicated.

The union’s president, Grant Ward, said in a statement that the union is fighting the new law’s retroactivity in order to look out for police officers’ best interests.

“SEBA is very concerned about any plans to retroactively apply Senate Bill 1421,” Ward said in the statement. “We believe retroactive application violates our members’ rights and we hope the California Supreme Court will consider the serious issues raised by our legal challenge.”

State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who drafted the legislation said California’s previous restrictions against releasing information about investigations into police officer misconduct did not serve the best interest of the public.

“When incidents such as a police shooting occurs, the public has a right to know that there was a thorough investigation,” Senator Skinner said in a statement released while the bill was making its way through the legislature in 2018. “Without access to such records, communities can’t hold our public safety agencies accountable.”

More: Police misconduct records have been kept secret for years. California just approved a new law bringing them to light

More: California lawmakers move to make police misconduct records more public

Now in effect, SB 1421 allows the public to use the California Public Records Act to unseal internal investigation records related to when officers use weapons on people, commit sexual assault or lie in police reports. The records may include evidence, recordings of interviews, autopsy reports, reports to the district attorney to determine whether to file charges and copies of disciplinary records.

While the bill keeps unfounded complaints from reaching the public, records that are disclosable will be unsealed 18 months after the incident.

The union’s case was filed as law enforcement agencies across California prepared for a wave of requests to release officer misconduct investigations.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore wrote in a letter included in the filing, that his department has established an SB 1421 Task Force to prepare for the “massive influx in historical records requests it anticipates.”

Moore wrote in the letter that the influx of requests could be “beyond any reasonable expectation given the sheer volume of personnel complaints and uses of force (UOF) maintained in antiquated or archaic formats”.

With the new law in effect, Rains, the union’s attorney, said he expects lower court could rule in contradictory ways on the retroactivity issue, meaning different interpretations in different jurisdictions, which could mean the lawsuit ends up back before the state supreme court.

“The possibility of multiple lawsuits being filed and litigated in numerous counties throughout the state, and the potential for conflicting decisions at the Superior Court level was the impetus for the action we filed,” Rains said.

Rains filed a similar case attempting to bar retroactive enforcement of SB 1421 in the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The superior court granted the union’s request to delay retroactive enforcement of the law on Dec. 31, but the case remains open.

More: 2006 California law prevented police misconduct records from reaching the public. State lawmakers might reverse course in next few days

Nikki Moore, an attorney for the California News Publishers Association, said every police department in California will have to determine how to comply with SB 1421.

But Michelle Blakemore, an attorney who works for San Bernardino County, wrote in a letter included as an exhibit in the lawsuit that the county has reviewed SB 1421 and plans to enforce it retroactively.

“In anticipation of SB 1421 taking effect, the Sheriff’s Department has been diligently reviewing the changes to the law and carefully considering how to implement these changes,” Blakemore wrote. “Based on this review, and on the advice of counsel, the Department intends to apply these changes retroactively.”

The union argued in the filing that the county’s plan is based on an incorrect interpretation of the law because SB 1421 does not explicitly order agencies to retroactively enforce the law.

“Respondent incorrectly contends that, notwithstanding the absence of any express retroactivity provision, SB 1421 must be applied and enforced as to personnel records and information reflecting specified peace officer conduct occurring prior to January 1, 2019,” the union wrote in the court filing.

Christopher Damien, Jan. 2, 2019, Palm Springs Desert Sun, “California high court cans cop union’s attempt to block new law requiring police misconduct records disclosure”, https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/crime_courts/2019/01/02/california-supreme-court-declines-lawsuit-delay-sb-1421-release-police-misconduct-records/2469806002/

Baltimore police expunged officer’s internal affairs files; public defender’s office calls for investigation

Jessica Anderson The Baltimore Sun, December 26, 2018

The Baltimore Police Department had a widespread practice of wrongly expunging internal affairs files of officers accused of misconduct, the public defender’s office alleges, and it’s calling for an investigation into the department’s practices.

The issue came to light as defense attorneys have sought information on police officers while representing clients in criminal cases. Officers’ internal affairs files are largely withheld from the public, and attorneys must make the case to a judge that such information is relevant to introduce the evidence at trial. But in some cases, attorneys say, they found files were expunged even though they had not been eligible for expungement.

The Public Defender’s Office is asking for the issue to be taken up as part of the federal consent decree reforms. The decree was reached last year between the city and the U.S. Justice Department after a federal investigation that found widespread discriminatory and unconstitutional policing in Baltimore.

“This widespread practice of expunging [Internal Affairs Division] files that are ripe for impeachment makes us question the extent to which the BPD is willing to promote transparency, as required by the Consent Decree,” wrote Kristen Getty Downs, the district public defender for Baltimore, and Deborah Katz Levi, the head of the office’s special litigation unit, in a letter to the consent decree’s monitoring team in October. The Baltimore Sun obtained the letter as part of a Maryland Public Information Act request.

Downs and Levi also complained that the Police Department lacked protocols to provide defense attorneys with sufficient access to internal affairs records.

“We continue to aggressively litigate access to withheld lAD files every day in Baltimore City Circuit Court,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, however, what we now know is that the BPD lacks a system to adequately identify and disclose discoverable material.”

The Police Department’s practices “are in direct contravention to state law and undercut the integrity of the entire system and the transparency and accountability tenets of the Consent Decree,” they wrote.

Many community leaders have stressed the need for greater transparency from the Police Department and the city about officer misconduct following the federal racketeering convictions of members of the Gun Trace Task Force and new mandates under the consent decree, which include more civilian oversight into officer misconduct.

City Solicitor Andre Davis, who oversees the department’s legal section, agreed that it needs improvements in how it handles misconduct investigations.

“Anybody who’s been paying attention in the consent decree knows these are the kinds of problems the department has every day,” such as management and supervision, he said.

Lawyers from the Police Department have been working to rewrite policies for internal affairs investigations as part of the consent decree. This summer, the monitoring team overseeing the reform process said the office “suffers from organizational deficiencies that impede its work,” before requesting deadline extensions.

“We are working on it. It’s very frustrating,” Davis said of the improvements.

The public defender’s office wrote the letter after Levi represented Clayton D. Colkley, a 42-year-old Baltimore man, at his fourth trial in October. He is charged with second-degree murder and other offenses in what prosecutors have described as a contract killing of James “Buck” Bowens on May 28, 2003. A second man was also injured in the shooting.

As part of Colkley’s defense, his attorneys have sought to impeach the credibility of the detectives who investigated the case, Kerry Snead and Darryl Massey, by questioning them before jurors about internal misconduct charges accusing them of overtime theft. Internal affairs investigators followed the detectives, finding them at home or running errands at a time when they would later say they were working overtime.

Levi has argued in court that she should be able to question detectives given the credibility issues raised in the internal affairs case. The detectives were called to testify in the prior Colkley trials about the shooting investigation.

In a 2013 victory for the defense, the state Court of Appeals found the officers’ internal affairs files had been improperly withheld from the defense and they weren’t able to question the officers about the case. Colkley’s earlier conviction was vacated and his case was sent back to Circuit Court for trial.

But before Colkley’s latest trial in October, his attorneys found that Snead’s misconduct cases had been expunged.

“Our client never got a fair trial because he couldn’t ask the officers about this theft ring that they engaged in and were found to have committed together. For the Police Department to then expunge those when the case comes back for reversal isn’t just fundamentally unfair, it’s not legal,” Levi said.

”Mr. Colkley has been siting in jail for 15 years without a fair trial, and he’s most recently been denied a bail review hearing,” Levi said.

More concerning, Levi said, is that the practice of wrongly expunging officers’ records appears to have occurred in dozens of other cases, and possibly more, following a hearing questioning BPD personnel about the practice.

“We asked the Police Department and the state’s attorney’s office to come forward and explain how this expungement could happen and what they brought were documents showing at least 27 cases where they changed a finding to administratively closed, which gave them the inappropriate pathway to expungement,” Levi said.

When an officer is accused of wrongdoing, he or she is investigated by officers from internal affairs, who might find a complaint sustained or not sustained. When cases are sustained, the internal affairs investigators will recommend discipline. Officers can accept the finding and any discipline or elect to go before a trial board, which is made up of three police officers. The trial board can recommend discipline, including dismissal, but the police commissioner ultimately has the final say.

Officers can seek to have cases expunged when cases are not sustained by internal affairs investigators, or when they are acquitted by a trial board. They cannot get a sustained case expunged, Levi said.

At pre-trial hearings in the Colkley case, Levi, prosecutors and attorneys for the Police Department sparred over whether Snead’s case should have been expunged. Prosecutors and attorneys for the police department have said Snead’s sustained complaints, which were not heard by a trial board, were later “administratively closed.”

Levi said state law does not recognize the “administratively closed” designation.

Lawyers for the department conceded that expungement polices have not always been clear, and expungements have not been extensively documented.

Daniel C. Beck, the chief of the Police Department’s legal affairs section, attempted to explain the practice at a hearing before Colkley’s trial in front of Baltimore Circuit Judge Althea Handy.

“The department clearly, in its historic practices, treated ‘administratively closed’ as an ‘unsustained’ finding, and therefore believed that that is subject to expungement,” Beck said, according to a recording of the hearing.

During an earlier hearing in the case, Patrick Seidel, who is prosecuting Colkley, argued that the designation of “administratively closed” meant the end of action. But Handy said, “then that should be in the statute.”

Colkley’s trial in October ended in a mistrial. Later that month, Levi and Downs submitted the letter to the consent decree monitoring team, asking them to evaluate the disclosure and expungement issues.

Ken Thompson, the head of the court-appointed consent decree monitoring team, would not comment on the Colkley case, but he said, “We are revisiting a number of internal affairs cases in connection with the overall assessments of the consent decree.”

Next year, the U.S. Justice Department, the Police Department and the city are expected to take up what’s known as the “Brady/Giglio protocol,” which refers to U.S. Supreme Court rulings that require prosecutors to disclose information that could benefit the defense — including any evidence that might exonerate the defendant or information that might impeach the credibility of the state’s witness, such as a police officer.

The consent decree requires the BPD to “eliminate policies that authorize the expungement of records where an employee accepts discipline,” and prohibits the use of “administratively closed” findings.

Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office, declined to comment on Colkley’s case, citing the ongoing case, and said that the office is not involved in the expungement process.

“The policy for expunging BPD internal affairs files is an administrative process developed by BPD and the Baltimore City Solicitor. Our agency has no involvement in this internal procedure, which does not impact discovery in criminal cases.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Levi and Downs this month also addressed the state commission created to evaluate the Gun Trace Task Force scandal, asking the panel to recommend measures that would improve transparency surrounding officer misconduct. They noted other jurisdictions around the country that have made internal affairs files more accessible to defense attorneys. Levi spoke of the Colkley case, and the “illegal expungement process.”

Colkley has another trial date scheduled for January.

Jessica Anderson The Baltimore Sun, December 26, 2018, “Baltimore police expunged officer’s internal affairs files; public defender’s office calls for investigation”, https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-ci-internal-affairs-files-expunged-20181015-story.html

‘Appalling’ video of police pulling a 1-year-old from his mother’s arms at a welfare office prompts an investigation

A group of police officers tried to pull a 1-year-old child from his mother’s arms as they arrested her at a Brooklyn food-assistance center Dec. 7.

December 10

Friday was a busy day at the Human Resources Administration office in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, where New Yorkers can apply for food stamps and other forms of public assistance. Lines were moving slowly, and the drab gray building was packed. Jazmine Headley just wanted to get a voucher for city-funded day care so she could find someone to look after her 1-year-old son, Damone, while she went to work as a cleaner, her mother would tell reporters.

Instead, Headley, 23, ended up behind bars — and at the center of the latest viral video to inspire outrage over alleged police brutality.

The two-and-half-minute video posted to Facebook on Friday shows Headley lying on the floor, surrounded by uniformed New York police officers and security guards. She holds her 1-year-old son firmly in her arms as the officers forcibly try to yank the child away. “They’re hurting my son,” she screams again and again. Unmoved, the officers keep on tugging. As onlookers gather around and begin filming the commotion, one officer pulls out a stun gun.

As of early Monday, the video has been viewed more than 195,000 times on Facebook. Multiple elected officials have expressed shock and outrage. “It’s hard to watch this video,” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D) wrote on Twitter, calling the violent arrest “unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking.”

State Attorney General-elect Letitia James, who currently serves as New York City’s public advocate, said in a Sunday statement that the police officers’ actions had been “appalling and contemptible.” Calling for the officers to be put on desk duty while an investigation takes place, she wrote, “No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video.”

“Being poor is not a crime,” James said.

Nyashia Ferguson, who shot and posted the video on Facebook, told reporters that the dispute started when the young mother sat on the floor because there were no more seats available in the crowded room.

“The security guard, I guess she came over and told her she couldn’t sit there,” Ferguson told WCBS. “So she’s like, ‘Where am I going to sit?’ ”

Told that she would just have to stand, Headley refused.

“She was like, ‘What is the crime? What did I do wrong?’ ” Ferguson said. “And then it just escalated.”

In a statement emailed to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department called the video “troubling” and said that the NYPD and HRA are investigating the incident. Police also said that office staff and security guards at the benefits office made multiple attempts to get Headley to leave “due to her disorderly conduct towards others, and for obstructing the hallway.” When that failed, they called 911.

Officers who arrived at the scene then told Headley to leave the office, police said. When she repeatedly refused, the security guards brought her to the floor. She continued to resist as police officers arrested her, according to the statement. It’s unclear whether Headley or her 1-year-old was hurt in the process — police said that she refused medical treatment for herself and for her son. No officers were injured.

Headley has been charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass, all misdemeanor offenses. According to police, New York City’s child welfare agency was notified, and a family member took custody of her son. Her mother, Jacqueline Jenkins, told WABC on Sunday that Headley is still in jail and has been barred from seeing Damone.

Ferguson, who filmed the altercation, questioned why the entire episode had to take place. Police could have done more to defuse the conflict, she suggested.

“If they would’ve just talked to her as a woman, gave her time to calm herself down, then I think it would have went way different,” she told WCBS. “She wouldn’t be in jail.”

Here’s how California became the most secretive state on police misconduct

Aug 15, 2018 | 3:00 AM| Sacramento

Here's how California became the most secretive state on police misconduct
Former state Sen. Gloria Romero introduced a bill more than a decade ago that would have allowed the public to access police discipline hearings and some records. It was defeated in the face of fierce opposition from police unions. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

In the 1970s, Los Angeles police officers were furious that past complaints against them increasingly were making their way into court cases.

So LAPD officials did something radical: They took more than four tons of personnel records dating to the 1940s and shredded them.

That decision resulted in the dismissal of more than 100 criminal cases involving officers accused of wrongdoing whose records had been purged, sparking public outrage.

The Legislature responded by passing a law that ensured officer discipline records would be preserved — but also made it nearly impossible for anyone to learn about them. The action, driven by police unions, began a decades-long process that has made California the strictest state in the nation when it comes to protecting police confidentiality.

That could change in the next few weeks, with lawmakers in Sacramento considering a landmark effort to increase disclosure.

Repeated efforts to open access to misconduct records have run into aggressive opposition from the unions, one of the most powerful political forces in the Capitol and city halls around the state. Lawmakers who championed transparency faced threats of union opposition at election time.

Police unions repeatedly have argued that California’s confidentiality rules protect officer safety and privacy — and prevent cops’ names from being dragged through the mud.

But this year, a group of California legislators is confronting police unions in ways once unthinkable. They argue the organizations are out of touch with public sentiment over how officers use force and interact with communities of color. The shift comes amid the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter and criminal justice reform movements.

“It’s hard to build trust … when police keep secret how they respond to killing members of the public and hide serious misconduct,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the American Civil Liberties Union of California.

The latest proposal to make some misconduct records public faces a key decision in the Legislature this week. While passage is far from assured, some union leaders privately are conceding that a measure of disclosure might be inevitable.

Robert Harris, a director for the union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, said high-profile videos capturing police using force — and the protests that followed — have put his side on the defensive.

“We’re kind of at the table trying to work with them, not because of the validity of their arguments but because we’re watching this movement create some hostility in our communities,” Harris said. “The profession of law enforcement is under siege.”

(Los Angeles Times)

No other state has locked away citizen complaints and internal investigation files like California.

Records of misconduct that results in suspensions and other significant discipline are public in 21 states. Only California, Delaware and New York have specially enshrined confidentiality laws that single out police disciplinary files. California is alone in denying prosecutors direct access to the records.

A Times investigation found that past misconduct, whether alleged or proven, routinely is kept hidden in court as a result of California’s police privacy laws.

The road to secrecy began in 1974, when the California Supreme Court ruled that defendants had a right to know about complaints that had been lodged against officers testifying in their cases. Defense attorneys started asking for information that might cast doubt on officers’ testimony.

It was during the barrage of requests that the LAPD destroyed complaints dating to 1949 that hadn’t resulted in a finding of wrongdoing. The leader of the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, or PORAC — the state’s largest law enforcement labor organization — complained that criminal defendants could now “embark on fishing expeditions into peace officers’ personnel files.”

First-term Gov. Jerry Brown, left, appears with California Atty. Gen. Evelle Younger on NBC's "Meet The Press" in 1978. Younger was the principal backer of the police confidentiality bill that Brown signed into law the same year.
First-term Gov. Jerry Brown, left, appears with California Atty. Gen. Evelle Younger on NBC’s “Meet The Press” in 1978. Younger was the principal backer of the police confidentiality bill that Brown signed into law the same year. (Associated Press)

In 1978, state Atty. Gen. Evelle Younger sponsored the legislation that required departments to keep misconduct records but also expressly blocked public access and made it much more difficult to view them in criminal court.

Under the bill, defendants would have to persuade a judge to examine an officer’s confidential file, in private, and decide if there was relevant information to disclose.

The Legislature passed the measure unanimously, sending it to Gov. Jerry Brown, then in his first term, who signed it.

Later that year, after Brown won reelection, his chief of staff credited law enforcement as one of most significant endorsements that led to his victory.

After the law took effect, a slice of police misconduct records remained available to the public.

In Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and other major cities, civil service commissions or police review boards considered officer discipline issues in open hearings. In 2006, the California Supreme Court ruled that the confidentiality law also applied to those hearings.

As a state senator, Gloria Romero repeatedly tried to pass legislation to loosen restrictions on police disciplinary records but was stymied by police unions. "It's a pack. Like wolves coming at you," she said.
As a state senator, Gloria Romero repeatedly tried to pass legislation to loosen restrictions on police disciplinary records but was stymied by police unions. “It’s a pack. Like wolves coming at you,” she said. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

That prompted Sen. Gloria Romero, a Democrat from Los Angeles, to introduce a bill to reopen disciplinary hearings and make some police records directly available to the public.

Law enforcement unions fiercely opposed what they described in letters to lawmakers as an attempt to undermine their “sacred” right to privacy.

John Stites, a union leader from Southern California, warned in an email to a lobbyist that if the bill passed, police would try to defeat a ballot measure seeking to extend the time some legislators could remain in office.

“There is no compromise on this. Ensure it be understood that this will only be the beginning,” Stites wrote in the message, which quickly made its way to lawmakers.

At a hearing for Romero’s bill in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, law enforcement officials filed into the committee room’s front rows — seats typically reserved for legislators and their staffs. So many police officers and lobbyists stood to express their opposition that the line extended out the door.

Ron Cottingham, then head of the law enforcement union PORAC, told the committee that Romero’s proposal was “one of the most insidious and dangerous bills we’ve seen come along in many years and maybe decades in Sacramento.”

The following year, Romero tried and failed again.

She said in a recent interview that the experience showed her why police unions are so feared in the Capitol.

“It’s a pack. Like wolves coming at you,” Romero said. “Other [legislators] see it, and you’re basically like meat thrown to the lions.”

Mark Leno, left, talks with Lou Correa at the Capitol when both men served in the state Senate. Leno twice proposed police transparency bills that failed when police unions opposed them.
Mark Leno, left, talks with Lou Correa at the Capitol when both men served in the state Senate. Leno twice proposed police transparency bills that failed when police unions opposed them. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Around the time of Romero’s first bill, Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced a similar proposal. It failed to win enough support to merit even a committee vote.

A year later, in 2008, Leno was running for the state Senate when opponents set up a political action committee called Protect Our Kids that ran ads attacking his votes to cut education spending. San Francisco’s police union, which was critical of Leno’s unsuccessful bill, was one of its top donors.

The lawmaker, who is openly gay, said he considered the committee’s name to be a clear reference to homophobic stereotypes about gay men as child predators.

“That’s how they play,” Leno said. “You come after us, we’ll come after you.”

San Francisco police labor officials did not return calls for comment. At the time, a union leader told reporters they were upset about Leno’s votes on public safety and education issues.

Leno won the election but waited until his final year in the Senate before introducing a new police transparency bill in 2016.

The timing followed the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager shot by a white officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Even so, the bill quickly died in a Senate fiscal committee.

“It was just too hot,” Leno said.

State Sen. Holly J. Mitchell at the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles. Mitchell told lobbyists for police unions this year that they were out of touch with public sentiment about law enforcement.
State Sen. Holly J. Mitchell at the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles. Mitchell told lobbyists for police unions this year that they were out of touch with public sentiment about law enforcement. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Two years later, a hearing on the latest disclosure bill showed how far the tone surrounding police issues has changed in the Capitol.

Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) told union lobbyists in April that they were out of touch with how communities perceived officers. No longer, she said, would the unions always get their way.

“Those days are over,” Mitchell said.

Her warning came less than a month after protests erupted near the Capitol in the wake of the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, by Sacramento police.

Senate Bill 1421 would open records from investigations of officer shootings and other major force incidents, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty. The bill must clear an Assembly fiscal committee this week en route to passage in the Legislature by the end of August, when lawmakers break for the year.

Its author, Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), has argued lawmakers must heed calls from black and Latino residents who want to know what happens to officers they accuse of misbehavior.

Police unions complain the measure would increase government costs and prompt a flood of court filings by inmates seeking release once a law enforcement witness’ past dishonesty is revealed. Knowing internal investigations will be disclosed, they say, also could lead some officers to hesitate during violent confrontations, endangering their lives.

“It has unintended consequences that are extreme and will hurt the public,” Ed Fishman, an attorney with PORAC, said at the April hearing.

Unlike in years past, the unions say they’re willing to negotiate.

Brian Marvel, current president of PORAC, said he could see the state’s rules changing in cases in which officers were found to have committed serious misconduct. “I’m not opposed to opening records,” he said.

As public scrutiny of police conduct has increased, unions also have experienced setbacks at the ballot box. In recent years, statewide voters approved several justice reform measures despite law enforcement opposition, including initiatives to unwind the state’s strict three-strikes sentencing law and reduce punishments for low-level thefts and drug offenses.

Still, the law enforcement lobby remains highly influential and the bill’s future uncertain.

Endorsements from police groups still are highly coveted by lawmakers fearful of opponents labeling them as soft on crime. Over the last decade, those unions have contributed more than $145 million to statewide ballot measures as well as legislative, gubernatorial and other statewide races, according to a Times analysis of campaign finance data. They’ve spent an additional $18 million on lobbying and other efforts to influence policy at the Capitol.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), who worked closely with police unions as a labor leader before being elected in 2013, heads the fiscal committee that will consider the bill this week.

Gonzalez Fletcher said she strongly supports protecting officers’ privacy. But she agrees that the conversation surrounding policing issues has changed.

In her district, which encompasses southern San Diego and stretches to the Mexican border, she’s noticed more complaints from Latino residents that police are treating them unfairly.

“Transparency is necessary,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “We have to do something in order for communities like mine to gain trust in police again.”

Aug 15, 2018, Los Angeles Times, “Here’s how California became the most secretive state on police misconduct”, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-me-california-police-discipline-secret-20180815-story.html


Protesters against police brutality violently attack security guard in Portland

Demonstrators injured security guards at Portland City Hall on Wednesday, as they were attempting to protest police brutality due to certain crowd control techniques that were implemented by police during a counterdemonstration on Saturday.

The protesters sought to disrupt a Portland City Council meeting, but the demonstrators did not prompt the city council to address police brutality as intended. The meeting was recessed after members of the audience started chanting “end police brutality.”

During the protests, a security guard was hit on the head multiple times with a megaphone by a protester clad in a mask and baseball helmet. Additionally, City Hall security chief Dorothy Elmore was hit on her arm by a demonstrator.

The protesters originally congregated in reaction to what they described as police brutality during a Saturday rally. At least three demonstrators had to be hospitalized after taking part in a Saturday counterprotest against a scheduled right-wing demonstration in Portland, all of them due to police activity. In two of the cases, flash-bang grenades fired at the crowd by police, possibly unprovoked, are said to have caused injuries.

“I should be home recovering from the pain and trauma I’m suffering. But I’m also suffering from complete outrage and powerlessness,” said Michelle Fawcett, who received third-degree chemical burns from a flash-bang grenade used by police on Saturday, according to The Oregonian.

According to Portland police spokesperson Sgt. Chris Burley, two of the protesters were arrested following the incident and face second-degree trespassing charges.

Diana Stancy Correll| August 09, 2018, Washington Examiner, “Protesters against police brutality violently attack security guard in Portland”, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/protesters-against-police-brutality-violently-attack-security-guard-in-portland

California Senate Bill 1421 Helps Hold Bad Cops Accountable

By Jonathan Blanks, August 11, 2018

This article appeared on The Orange County Register on August 11, 2018.

Of all 50 states, California has enacted perhaps the most stringent legislative barriers to police accountability. Not only do state laws protect misconduct findings against officers from the public, but the law also keeps that information out of the hands of prosecutors who need to trust the police to ensure justice. A prosecutor cannot put an officer on the witness stand that she knows has a history of lying. But if that prosecutor cannot easily get access to the officer’s disciplinary record, as California law currently ensures, then she may be relying on bad police information or, even worse, prosecuting an innocent person on the word of a dishonest officer. As both a matter of principle and practicality, the government should do its best to maintain the honesty and integrity of its police officers.

For police to be effective in their job to protect and serve the public, they require the trust of the communities they serve. Without trust, witnesses will not cooperate and provide testimony to bring criminal perpetrators to justice. Without witness cooperation, perpetrator apprehension becomes less likely — negating the greatest deterrent to committing crime — and thus public safety suffers. When police are not held accountable for their actions and misconduct against the community, then, the public suffer twice: first, the community is damaged by the misconduct itself and second, the community’s security is compromised by the diminished trust that comes from misbehaving police who remain on the streets.

There is currently a bill before the California Legislature that would ease the burden for the prosecutors and the public to know whether the officers in their communities are trustworthy. SB1421 would require police departments to release information about, inter alia, sustained findings of dishonesty in the course of criminal cases and other instances of police misconduct. This bill would also require police departments to release information about serious uses of force, including officer-involved shootings, to increase transparency.

Law-and-order conservatives can support SB1421 because it may restore a level of legitimacy to criminal prosecutions. When dishonest officers are found out after many years of misconduct, hundreds or thousands of prosecutions in which they played a role may be jeopardized because of their misdeeds. The criminal justice system relies upon honest police officers and shielding the dishonest among them, as California law currently does, undermines the integrity and, ultimately, the final disposition of criminal prosecutions.

Officers who honor the badge and have no history of lying or other serious misconduct — which, in most departments, should be a large majority of officers — have nothing to fear from the identification of problem officers who tarnish the reputation of their colleagues. Police shootings and other serious uses of force, while often tragic, are part of the job and the departments should be as open as they can be while preserving the integrity of the investigation into those incidents. Withholding the names of officers who shoot and kill someone can create the perception of a cover-up, whether or not the shooting was justified, again tarring officers who are doing their jobs correctly.

At bottom, current California law protects the worst officers by hiding their identities from the public and makes them indistinguishable from the bulk of the officers who do their jobs faithfully in accordance with the Constitution. Restoring community trust in police and the justice system writ large will require more transparency from departments and more accountability for those officers who have abused their positions. The California legislature should not maintain laws that make that trust systemically impossible.

Jonathan Blanks, August 11, 2018, The Orange County Register, “California Senate Bill 1421 Helps Hold Bad Cops Accountable”, https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/california-senate-bill-1421-helps-hold-bad-cops-accountable

Black Cops Are Just as Likely as White Cops to Kill Black Suspects

New research suggests a culture of bias is a bigger problem than individual racist officers.
Tom Jacobs,
Police officers.

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When a white police officer fatally shoots a black man, angry acquaintances often assume the tragedy was triggered by a racist cop.

New research reports that, while some officers may by driven by personal prejudice, the bias that can serve as a catalyst for killings is more institutional than individual.

“White officers do not kill black suspects at a higher rate compared with nonwhite officers,” concludes a research team led by Charles Menifield, dean of the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University–Newark. “The killing of black suspects is a police problem, not a white police problem.”

Menifield and his colleagues constructed a database of all confirmed incidents in which deadly force was used by police in the United States during 2014 and 2015. It includes detailed information on both the officer and victim.

Not surprisingly, they found a huge racial disparity when it comes to who gets killed by officers. “While only about 13 percent of the American population is black,” they write, “28 percent of people killed by police are black.”

The victims were overwhelmingly male (95.5 percent), and less than 1 percent were unarmed at the time of the incident. “The gun could been in the car, or on them, but it was there at the time they were killed,” Menifield noted.

The majority of officers in these situations were white. But this reflects the fact that America’s police forces are disproportionately made up of whites, who account for approximately three-quarters of all officers.

Crunching the numbers, the researchers report “white police officers actually kill black and other minority suspects at lower rates than we would expect if killings were randomly distributed among officers of all races.”

In contrast, “we find that nonwhite officers kill both black and Latino suspects at significantly higher rates than white officers,” they write. “This is likely due to the fact that minority police officers tend to be assigned to minority neighborhoods, and therefore have more contact with minority suspects.”

But if individual-level racism isn’t the issue, what is? Menifield and his colleagues make a strong argument that the fundamental problem is one of institutional culture.

“We believe that the disproportionate killing of black suspects is a downstream effect of institutionalized racism … within many police departments,” they write. At least in part, “disproportionate killing is a function of disproportionate police contact among members of the African-American community.”

In other words, if a certain percentage of such encounters between the police and public end in tragedy, and cops are more likely to come into contact with black citizens (for instance, ordering African-American drivers to pull over at higher rates than whites), it stands to reason that black civilians are at greater risk of ending up dead.

Blaming racist cops for this problem is emotionally satisfying (it presents a clear villain) and suggests an easy fix (weed them out). But this research suggests the real problem is the entrenched set of biases and assumptions that pervade police forces, influencing the attitudes and actions of cops of all colors.

Tom Jacobs, , Pacific Standard, “Black Cops Are Just as Likely as White Cops to Kill Black Suspects”, https://psmag.com/social-justice/black-cops-are-just-as-likely-as-whites-to-kill-black-suspects