Currrent as of February 4, 2022
Penal Code § 832.7
Confidentiality of peace officer records: Exceptions
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), the personnel records of peace officers and custodial officers and records maintained by a state or local agency pursuant to Section 832.5, or information obtained from these records, are confidential and shall not be disclosed in any criminal or civil proceeding except by discovery pursuant to Sections 1043 and 1046 of the Evidence Code. This section does not apply to investigations or proceedings concerning the conduct of peace officers or custodial officers, or an agency or department that employs those officers, conducted by a grand jury, a district attorney’s office, or the Attorney General’s office, or the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
(1) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), subdivision (f) of Section 6254 of the Government Code, or any other law, the following peace officer or custodial officer personnel records and records maintained by a state or local agency shall not be confidential and shall be made available for public inspection pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code):
(A) A record relating to the report, investigation, or findings of any of the following:
(i) An incident involving the discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer or custodial officer.
(ii) An incident involving the use of force against a person by a peace officer or custodial officer that resulted in death or in great bodily injury.
(iii) A sustained finding involving a complaint that alleges unreasonable or excessive force.
(iv) A sustained finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using force that is clearly unreasonable or excessive.
(i) Any record relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency that a peace officer or custodial officer engaged in sexual assault involving a member of the public.
(ii) As used in this subparagraph, “sexual assault” means the commission or attempted initiation of a sexual act with a member of the public by means of force, threat, coercion, extortion, offer of leniency or other official favor, or under the color of authority. For purposes of this subparagraph, the propositioning for or commission of any sexual act while on duty is considered a sexual assault.
(iii) As used in this subparagraph, “member of the public” means any person not employed by the officer’s employing agency and includes any participant in a cadet, explorer, or other youth program affiliated with the agency.
(C) Any record relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency involving dishonesty by a peace officer or custodial officer directly relating to the reporting, investigation, or prosecution of a crime, or directly relating to the reporting of, or investigation of misconduct by, another peace officer or custodial officer, including, but not limited to, false statements, filing false reports, destruction, falsifying, or concealing of evidence, or perjury.
(D) Any record relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency that a peace officer or custodial officer engaged in conduct including, but not limited to, verbal statements, writings, online posts, recordings, and gestures, involving prejudice or discrimination against a person on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status.
(E) Any record relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency that the peace officer made an unlawful arrest or conducted an unlawful search.
(2) Records that are subject to disclosure under clause (iii) or (iv) of subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1), or under subparagraph (D) or (E) of paragraph (1), relating to an incident that occurred before January
1, 2022, shall not be subject to the time limitations in paragraph (8) until January 1, 2023.
(3) Records that shall be released pursuant to this subdivision include all investigative reports; photographic, audio, and video evidence; transcripts or recordings of interviews; autopsy reports; all materials compiled and presented for review to the district attorney or to any person or body charged with determining whether to file criminal charges against an officer in connection with an incident, or whether the officer’s action was consistent with law and agency policy for purposes of discipline or administrative action, or what discipline to impose or corrective action to take; documents setting forth findings or recommended findings; and copies of disciplinary records relating to the incident, including any letters of intent to impose discipline, any documents reflecting modifications of discipline due to the Skelly or grievance process, and letters indicating final imposition of discipline or other documentation reflecting implementation of corrective action. Records that shall be released pursuant to this subdivision also include records relating to an incident specified in paragraph (1) in which the peace officer or custodial officer resigned before the law enforcement agency or oversight agency concluded its investigation into the alleged incident.
(4) A record from a separate and prior investigation or assessment of a separate incident shall not be released unless it is independently subject to disclosure pursuant to this subdivision.
(5) If an investigation or incident involves multiple officers, information about allegations of misconduct by, or the analysis or disposition of an investigation of, an officer shall not be released pursuant to subparagraph (B), (C), (D), or (E) of paragraph (1), unless it relates to a sustained finding regarding that officer that is itself subject to disclosure pursuant to this section. However, factual information about that action of an officer during an incident, or the statements of an officer about an incident, shall be released if they are relevant to a finding against another officer that is subject to release pursuant to subparagraph (B), (C), (D), or (E) of paragraph (1).
(6) An agency shall redact a record disclosed pursuant to this section only for any of the following purposes:
(A) To remove personal data or information, such as a home address, telephone number, or identities of family members, other than the names and work-related information of peace and custodial officers.
(B) To preserve the anonymity of whistleblowers, complainants, victims, and witnesses.
(C) To protect confidential medical, financial, or other information of which disclosure is specifically prohibited by federal law or would cause an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy that clearly outweighs the strong public interest in records about possible misconduct and use of force by peace officers and custodial officers.
(D) Where there is a specific, articulable, and particularized reason to believe that disclosure of the record would pose a significant danger to the physical safety of the peace officer, custodial officer, or another person.
(7) Notwithstanding paragraph (6), an agency may redact a record disclosed pursuant to this section, including personal identifying information, where, on the facts of the particular case, the public interest served by not disclosing the information clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the information.
(8) An agency may withhold a record of an incident described in paragraph (1) that is the subject of an active criminal or administrative investigation, in accordance with any of the following:
(i) During an active criminal investigation, disclosure may be delayed for up to 60 days from the date the misconduct or use of force occurred or until the district attorney determines whether to file criminal charges related to the misconduct or use of force, whichever occurs sooner. If an agency delays disclosure pursuant to this clause, the agency shall provide, in writing, the specific basis for the agency’s determination that the interest in delaying disclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure. This writing shall include the estimated date for disclosure of the withheld information.
(ii) After 60 days from the misconduct or use of force, the agency may continue to delay the disclosure of records or information if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with a criminal enforcement proceeding against an officer who engaged in misconduct or used the force. If an agency delays disclosure pursuant to this clause, the agency shall, at 180-day intervals as necessary, provide, in writing, the specific basis for the agency’s determination that disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with a criminal enforcement proceeding. The writing shall include the estimated date for the disclosure of the withheld information. Information withheld by the agency shall be disclosed when the specific basis for withholding is resolved, when the investigation or proceeding is no longer active, or by no later than 18 months after the date of the incident, whichever occurs sooner.
(iii) After 60 days from the misconduct or use of force, the agency may continue to delay the disclosure of records or information if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with a criminal enforcement proceeding against someone other than the officer who engaged in misconduct or used the force. If an agency delays disclosure under this clause, the agency shall, at 180-day intervals, provide, in writing, the specific basis why disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with a criminal enforcement proceeding, and shall provide an estimated date for the disclosure of the withheld information. Information withheld by the agency shall be disclosed when the specific basis for withholding is resolved, when the investigation or proceeding is no longer active, or by no later than 18 months after the date of the incident, whichever occurs sooner, unless extraordinary circumstances warrant continued delay due to the ongoing criminal investigation or proceeding. In that case, the agency must show by clear and convincing evidence that the interest in preventing prejudice to the active and ongoing criminal investigation or proceeding outweighs the public interest in prompt disclosure of records about misconduct or use of force by peace officers and custodial officers. The agency shall release all information subject to disclosure that does not cause substantial prejudice, including any documents that have otherwise become available.
(iv) In an action to compel disclosure brought pursuant to Section 6258 of the Government Code, an agency may justify delay by filing an application to seal the basis for withholding, in accordance with Rule 2.550 of the California Rules of Court, or any successor rule, if disclosure of the written basis itself would impact a privilege or compromise a pending investigation.
(B) If criminal charges are filed related to the incident in which misconduct occurred or force was used, the agency may delay the disclosure of records or information until a verdict on those charges is returned at trial or, if a plea of guilty or no contest is entered, the time to withdraw the plea pursuant to Section 1018.
(C) During an administrative investigation into an incident described in of paragraph (1), the agency may delay the disclosure of records or information until the investigating agency determines whether misconduct or the use of force violated a law or agency policy, but no longer than 180 days after the date of the employing agency’s discovery of the misconduct or use of force, or allegation of misconduct or use of force, by a person authorized to initiate an investigation.
(9) A record of a complaint, or the investigations, findings, or dispositions of that complaint, shall not be released pursuant to this section if the complaint is frivolous, as defined in Section 128.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, or if the complaint is unfounded.
(10) The cost of copies of records subject to disclosure pursuant to this subdivision that are made available upon the payment of fees covering direct costs of duplication pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 6253 of the Government Code shall not include the costs of searching for, editing, or redacting the records.
(11) Except to the extent temporary withholding for a longer period is permitted pursuant to paragraph (8), records subject to disclosure under this subdivision shall be provided at the earliest possible time and no later than 45 days from the date of a request for their disclosure.
(A) For purposes of releasing records pursuant to this subdivision, the lawyer-client privilege does not prohibit the disclosure of either of the following:
(i) Factual information provided by the public entity to its attorney or factual information discovered in any investigation conducted by, or on behalf of, the public entity’s attorney.
(ii) Billing records related to the work done by the attorney so long as the records do not relate to active and ongoing litigation and do not disclose information for the purpose of legal consultation between the public entity and its attorney.
(B) This paragraph does not prohibit the public entity from asserting that a record or information within the record is exempted or prohibited from disclosure pursuant to any other federal or state law.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), a department or agency shall release to the complaining party a copy of the complaining party’s own statements at the time the complaint is filed.
(d) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), a department or agency that employs peace or custodial officers may disseminate data regarding the number, type, or disposition of complaints (sustained, not sustained, exonerated, or unfounded) made against its officers if that information is in a form that does not identify the individuals involved.
(e) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), a department or agency that employs peace or custodial officers may release factual information concerning a disciplinary investigation if the officer who is the subject of the disciplinary investigation, or the officer’s agent or representative, publicly makes a statement that they know to be false concerning the investigation or the imposition of disciplinary action. Information may not be disclosed by the peace or custodial officer’s employer unless the false statement was published by an established medium of communication, such as television, radio, or a newspaper. Disclosure of factual information by the employing agency pursuant to this subdivision is limited to facts contained in the officer’s personnel file concerning the disciplinary investigation or imposition of disciplinary action that specifically refute the false statements made public by the peace or custodial officer or their agent or representative.
(1) The department or agency shall provide written notification to the complaining party of the disposition of the complaint within 30 days of the disposition.
(2) The notification described in this subdivision is not conclusive or binding or admissible as evidence in any separate or subsequent action or proceeding brought before an arbitrator, court, or judge of this state or the United States.
(g) This section does not affect the discovery or disclosure of information contained in a peace or custodial officer’s personnel file pursuant to Section 1043 of the Evidence Code.
(h) This section does not supersede or affect the criminal discovery process outlined in Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 1054) of Title 6 of Part 2, or the admissibility of personnel records pursuant to subdivision (a), which codifies the court decision in Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531.
(i) Nothing in this chapter is intended to limit the public’s right of access as provided for in Long Beach Police Officers Association v. City of Long Beach (2014) 59 Cal.4th 59.
Added Stats 1978 ch 630 § 5. Amended Stats 1985 ch 539 § 3; Stats 1988 ch 685 § 2; Stats 1989 ch 615 § 1; Stats 1994 ch 741 § 1 (SB 2058); Stats 1996 ch 220 § 1 (AB 2176); Stats 2000 ch 971 § 1 (AB 2559); Stats 2002 ch 63 § 1 (AB 1873), ch 391 § 6 (AB 2040); Stats 2003 ch 102 § 1 (AB 1106); Stats 2018 ch 988 § 2 (SB 1421), effective January 1, 2019; Stats 2021 ch 615 § 339 (AB 474), effective January 1, 2022; Stats 2021 ch 402 § 3 (SB 16), effective January 1, 2022; Stats 2021 ch 409 § 5.5 (SB 2), effective January 1, 2022 (ch 409 prevails).
Penal Code 832.7