~ Kern County redacts police reports ~

Court to keep files secret (circumvent subscription, login: emmanuellewis/webster)
Citing privacy concerns, Kern will hide details of criminal cases from public
By AMY HILVERS, Californian staff writer
e-mail: ahilvers@bakersfield.com
Posted: Friday March 11th, 2005, 10:30 PM
Last Updated: Friday March 11th, 2005, 10:55 PM
Kern County courts are set to start sealing all police reports in criminal cases Monday, vastly limiting information the public learns about crimes.

Apparently the State Senator, Dean Florez, who sponsored the restrictive legislation, isn’t too pleased with the way the District Attorney has overreached the intent of SB58 in removing all police reports from the public record, including court files.

SB58, which was passed and signed into law in the 2004 legislative session, states, in part:

SB 58, Johnson. Police reports: confidentiality. Existing law provides Californians with a right of privacy. Existing law regulates the dissemination of personal information heldby government agencies. Existing law exempts courts from the provisions of the California Public Records Act and permits a court to seal records and redact information from them. This bill would require the district attorney and the courts in each county to establish a mutually agreeable procedure, as specified, to protect confidential personal information, as defined, regarding any witness or victim contained in a police report, arrest report, or investigative report that is submitted to a court by a prosecutor in support of a criminal complaint, indictment, or information, or by a prosecutor or law enforcement officer in support of a search warrant or an arrest warrant.

This bill is incorporated into the California Penal Code Section 964, with the explanatory language that we’ve all come to expect.

In order to protect the safety and privacy of victims and witnesses of crimes, to encourage witnesses to come forward and report crimes, and to combat the efforts of identity thieves to obtain the personal identifying information of California citizens, it is necessary that this act go into immediate effect.

Exactly when did identity thieves start collecting police reports? Why isn’t there an exception for private investigators and journalists? Did the District Attorney convince Senator Florez that criminals were using police reports to get victim’s names, then intimidate them? Huh, like they need to do that. The knuckleheads already know the witnesses against them: their neighbors, rival gang members, their girlfriends….

Constituents of Senator Florez need to pay him a visit. Immediately. Take action before every county in California has new policies in place. Meet with your District Attorney and clarify their interpretation of SB58.

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