Inglewood, California, a municipality with a horrible record on police shootings and other law enforcement misconduct, is planning to destroy police records ahead of a California law coming into force that makes these records public.
My only conclusion is that the actual records will confirm that their problem is far worse than has been reported:
The city of Inglewood has authorized the shredding of more than 100 police shooting and other internal investigation records weeks before a new state law could allow the public to access them for the first time.
The decision, made at a City Council meeting earlier this month, has troubled civil liberties advocates who were behind the state legislation, Senate Bill 1421, which takes effect Jan. 1. The law opens to the public internal investigations of officer shootings and other major uses of force, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty.
“The legislature passed SB 1421 because communities demanded an end to the secrecy cloaking police misconduct and use of force,” Marcus Benigno, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said in a statement. “Inglewood PD’s decision to purge records undermines police accountability and transparency against the will of Californians.”
Inglewood City Council approved the destruction of records that have been in the police department’s possession — more than 100 cases — longer than required by law. The city staff report and council resolution describing the action makes no mention of the new police transparency law. Instead it says the affected records are “obsolete, occupy valuable space, and are of no further use to the police department.” It added the traditional method of destroying such records is to shred them.
The Inglewood Police Department has a reputation for secrecy and using excessive force. In 2008, the department’s officers fatally shot four men in as many months, three of whom turned out to be unarmed. The U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights probe and found significant flaws in the way the department oversaw use-of-force cases and investigated complaints against officers.
Civil rights advocates still question why Inglewood police opened fire on a couple found sleeping in a car in 2016, killing them both.
I’m sure that the police told the Inglewood City Council, that this was the only way to avoid liability, but that’s a lie.
The only people being protected here are the police, the city will have any defense hamstrung by things like Federal Court Rule 37 on discovery.
Of course, the police did not tell the councilmen about that, because at the end of the day, the police work for the police.