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Police Unions Object to Transparency, Newton Writes

Public policy lecturer Jim Newton recently published an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times denouncing police unions’ “blanket attempts to shield [police] records.” Police shootings across the country have prompted demands for more transparency in law enforcement. A new law in California, SB 1421, requires that “records of police shootings and other uses of force be made public,” including “cases in which officers were investigated for dishonesty or sexual assault.” According to Newton, police unions are resisting the law by arguing that it “only applies to new records created after the law took effect.” Newton compares SB 1421 to other sunshine laws like the Freedom of Information Act, where access to “old documents … shed substantial new light on American history.” Newton acknowledges the special circumstances that may require withholding certain records from the public, but stresses the importance of transparency as a “crucial tool for keeping police accountable.”


Newton Discusses Police Transparency in Wake of Recent Shooting

Lecturer Jim Newton of UCLA Luskin Public Policy was interviewed on KPCC’s “Take Two” about police transparency, particularly police body camera footage released after a recent incident. Newton, who covered the LAPD during his 25-year career at the Los Angeles Times, said, “The new wrinkle here is audio and video obviously, but the tension between the department wanting to contain information and the public, principally the press, trying to seek that information certainly goes back at least to the early ’90s when I was covering the police department full time. … Now we’re coming up in this new technical iteration of it, which is the question of what to do with all this body camera footage that police are collecting and what to do with civilian footage and audio that people just have on their cellphones.”