A Calculated Betrayal of the Public Trust

By: 
Stephen Downing

On Feb. 12, the Beachcomber received – as did many other interested parties – a letter from the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office that conveyed Charles Parkin’s recently implemented policy to withhold release of Public Records Requests (PRA) related to a new law (SB 1421) that provides public access to selected police disciplinary and use of force investigation and adjudication documents.

Parkin supported his policy statement by saying that “the California Attorney general’s office released guidance related to the retroactive application of SB 1421” … and therefore “the city is following the attorney general’s direction and will not disclose any records related to incidents that pre-date Jan. 1, 2019 at this time.”

The Beachcomber obtained a copy of the attorney general’s “guidance” upon which Parkin based his written policy and learned that the attorney general’s information bulletin – which was directed to law enforcement agencies – did not require that SB 1421 related records be withheld.

The directive merely instructs agencies to “preserve all records that may be subject to disclosure beginning Jan. 1.”

Various media reports indicate that after issuing his directive to California law enforcement agencies – Becerra’s office rejected a PRA request to release relevant records pertaining to misconduct by California Department of Justice officers working in his office, saying, “We will not disclose any records that pre-date Jan. 1.”

Becerra’s unilateral in-house decision had nothing to do with his Jan. 3 instruction to all California law enforcement agencies. It was intended only to “preserve” peace officer and custodial officer records.

The Sacramento Bee editorial board condemned Becerra’s action as “a calculated betrayal of both the public interest and the law by the person we elected to protect and uphold them.”

The Long Beach City Attorney – nor our elected officials – have no legal or moral obligation or responsibility to follow the path Becerra has chosen.

Becerra is going to have to live with his defiance of the law years from now, as are the elected officials who leverage his corrupted decisions to justify their own betrayal of the public interest and law.

The mayor and City Council – with Parkin’s advice – has already taken the outrageous step of destroying relevant records before SB 1421 took effect.

This abuse of power is an obvious effort to avoid public study, analysis and scrutiny of past administrative decision-making related to the governance and administration of our police department and serves only to exacerbate what is already an egregious violation of the public trust.

If the mayor and City Council do not reverse the Parkin policy, then they too will have to explain their calculated betrayal of the public interest and trust as they continue to pursue their political careers.

Stephen Downing is a Long Beach resident and retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

stephen@beachcomber.news

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Comments

The mayor does not care about the citizens of the LBC, he's just the police chief's puppet. Sad to say but seems like he only cares about the gay community. I heard that the police department has dirt on him and is holding the info over his head. Now he is beholding to the PD chief. That is why – after all the corrupt PD leadership – our so-called mayor does nothing to hold them accountable.

It’s a sad fact that the city attorney's office acts to protect and conceal misconduct involving the LBPD management. The city attorney's office allows police management to do as they please with no concern or reverence for the law. When the LBPD management does something wrong the city attorney's office covers up the misconduct and will fabricate a story to cover the city from liability from police misconduct. The LBPD management should be disbanded. Systemic misconduct and blatant incompetence are their only attributes.

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