A new state bill introduced by a Central Coast assemblyman on Feb. 17 aims to improve transparency and accountability for police officers involved in misconduct investigations after they resign or are rehired at other agencies.
The bill, AB 718, would require law enforcement agencies to complete misconduct and officer-involved shooting investigations even after an officer resigns and would require investigators to share their findings with the officer's new agency if the officer seeks employment elsewhere.
The legislation was introduced by 35th District Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who represents northern Santa Barbara County and is a former San Luis Obispo County deputy district attorney. The bill was inspired by the case of former Paso Robles Police Officer Christopher McGuire, who is facing a federal lawsuit alleging misconduct, including rape, assault and stalking.
"Government officials, including police officers, should not be able to resign in order to avert responsibility and keep potential misconduct hidden from the public's view," Cunningham said.
A former Santa Barbara County Jail inmate has filed a federal lawsuit against a sheriff's employee who is accused of sexually abusing her while she was incarcerated in 2017.
Current law allows police personnel records to be made public if an investigation sustains specific misconduct allegations, although many investigations are not completed if the officer resigns. The new bill would make sustained findings available to the public even after the officer resigns.
Cunningham was one of four Republican assembly members who in 2018 voted to approve SB 1421, a police transparency bill that required California police agencies to release personnel files if certain types of misconduct allegations are sustained after an investigation, including in cases of sexual misconduct, uses of force and dishonesty.
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