The Los Angeles Times made a request under California’s Public Records Act [Government Code section 6250] seeking the names of police officers involved in a December 2010 officer involved shooting in Long Beach as well as the names of officers involved in all shootings over the previous five years. The City initially said it intended to provide the information, but after it informed the Long Beach Police Officers Association, LBPOA asked for an injunction preventing disclosure. After initially issuing a temporary restraining order, the trial court granted the Time’s request to dissolve the order and denied a request for an injunction. Noting the public interest in the conduct of peace officers is substantial, the Court of Appeal affirmed, finding officers’ names are not personnel records or personal data and their disclosure would not amount to an invasion of privacy. (Long Beach Police Officer’s Association v. City of Long Beach (Cal. App. Second Dist., Div. 2; February 7, 2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 292, [136 Cal.Rptr.3d 868].)
The matter made its way to the California Supreme Court, and the court affirmed both the trial court’s and appellate court’s decisions, stating: “We do not hold that the names of officers involved in shootings have to be disclosed in every case, regardless of the circumstances. We merely conclude, as did the trial court and the Court of Appeal, that the particularized showing necessary to outweigh the public‘s interest in disclosure was not made here, where the Union and the City relied on only a few vaguely worded declarations making only general assertions about the risks officers face after a shooting. The public records request by the Times is broadly worded and covers a wide variety of incidents. Thus, the Union and the City sought a blanket rule preventing the disclosure of officer names every time an officer is involved in a shooting. Such a rule would even prevent disclosure of the name of an officer who acted in a heroic manner that was unlikely to provoke retaliation of any kind, in which case officer safety would not be an issue. We reject that blanket rule.” (Long Beach Police Officer’s Association v. City of Long Beach (Cal. Sup. Ct.; May 29, 2014) 59 Cal.4th 59, [325 P.3d 460].)
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