According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, reporters and members of the public who manage to get their hands on copies of a state-produced list of law-breaking police officers will be treated as criminals as well.
News of the list and Becerra’s startling decree trickled out, according to the San Jose Mercury News, during a “routine” Freedom of Information Act request lodged by reporters associated with the University of California-Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program.
The IRP’s Jason Paladino and Investigative Studio’s Robert Lewis report that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has warned the reporters that a list of cop criminal convictions they obtained through a Public Records Act request must be destroyed. https://t.co/ZobCWPjPUB
— UC Berkeley IRP (@UCBerkeleyIRP) February 26, 2019
After their January FOIA filing with the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) — in which reporters requested a tally of Golden State police officers who ran afoul of the law themselves — Becerra’s office ordered the news gatherers to destroy the so-called list.
Becerra’s argument? The information is confidential and was released by mistake. The journalists, however, are so far refusing to budge, although the Mercury News reports the group has yet to publish the full list, citing concerns of misidentification.
"When Becerra tries to claw back data, it raises the question: Who is he standing up for?" -John Temple, director of the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalismhttps://t.co/LSKhmZTYKZ
— Judy Lin (@ByJudyLin) February 27, 2019
According to the Berkeley group, there are nearly 12,000 names in the “secret” file.
Per John Temple, the program’s director:
“California’s attorney general objects to President Donald Trump’s border wall. But when it comes to letting the public know about police misconduct, it’s another story. He’s all for a wall to keep the public in the dark.”
Temple in his column continued to compare Becerra to Trump:
“We have an attorney general threatening the press for doing its job, which doesn’t seem much different than a president who labels the press the “enemy of the people,” Temple writes. “We have an attorney general who wants to keep a wall of secrecy around police misconduct.
“We have an attorney general who appears to be flaunting the very principles that have protected a free press in this country. The implication of his department’s letter is clear: Don’t report on the documents.”
Temple insists his group has no plans to destroy the files.
“We intend to pursue our reporting in the weeks and months ahead.”
"California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is demanding that a UC Berkeley journalism program returns a state list that includes law enforcement officers convicted of crimes in the past decade." https://t.co/NGJoatiehQ
— Society of Professional Journalists (@spj_tweets) February 27, 2019
— KSBW Action News 8 (@ksbw) February 28, 2019