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Intro Guide to California SB1421 and AB748

December 6, 2018
illustrated siren light on blue background with California SB 1421 and AB 748 a Guide on What to Expect title text in white

(Note: The following resources are meant to provide a basic orientation and starting point for SB1421 and AB748 and are not exhaustive. It is also not a substitute for professional legal services or auditing.)

Two recent California laws, Senate Bill 1421 and Assembly Bill 748, expand the types of records that law enforcement agencies are required to release in response to public records requests.  These changes will likely lead to a significant increase in records requests when the first bill goes into effect January 1st.

We’ve put together a short FAQ on what California Police Departments should expect with the passing of these two pieces of legislation and ways their agencies can help manage the influx of records requests.

1. What is SB1421?

SB1421 makes records related to certain types of investigation of peace officers subject to public records requests. These include investigations into incidents involving discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer, and use of force that resulted in death or great bodily injury among others. SB1421 goes into effect January 1st, 2019.

Find more detailed information on SB1421 here.

2. What is AB748?

AB748 makes video and audio recordings of “critical incidents” subject to public records requests. Critical incidents are defined as incidents involving the discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer, or where use of force by a peace officer resulted in death or great bodily injury. AB748 goes into effect July 1st, 2019.

Find more detailed information on AB748 here.

‍3. How will these new laws impact public records requests for my agency?

Law enforcement agencies are likely to see an increase in records requests for any previous investigations, with the very real possibility that all investigations will be requested as soon as the law goes into effect on January 1st. This will require significant work not only to gather the documents (which may be held across multiple departments) but also to redact any audio or video files that are part of the investigation.

4. How will I pay for this?

Because of a recent California court ruling, you may be able to charge for the cost of redacting video files and other documents. In National Lawyers Guild vs. City of Hayward, A149328, the First District Court of Appeals held that the requester must pay for the cost of redacting responsive videos. they found that a public agency could be reimbursed by a CPRA requester when "the agency must incur costs to acquire and utilize a special computer extract exempt material from otherwise disclosable electronic public records." (Text of law here)

If you’re interested in charging for redaction we encourage you to first consult with your attorney. Our payments module can help.

5. What should I do next?

It’s not too late to get ahead of the curve. If you've been considering getting a public records solution to help manage records requests now is the time.

Get in touch to learn more about our records request software.