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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces New Law Enforcement Reporting Requirements for Citizen Complaints Against Peace Officers

Thursday, December 31, 2015
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued an information bulletin to California law enforcement agencies outlining new responsibilities under state law to track and report citizen complaints against peace officers, including complaints alleging racial or identity profiling.

Under the new law, AB 953 (Weber), California law enforcement agencies must begin collecting additional citizen complaint data starting on January 1, 2016.  An annual report of data must be submitted to the California Department of Justice beginning January 1, 2017, and will be made available to the public and disaggregated for each individual law enforcement agency.

“Racial and identity profiling undermine public trust and have debilitating effects on communities. Tracking and reporting citizen complaints will create accountability for law enforcement agencies engaged in these ineffective practices and help move us toward more fair and impartial policing in California,” said Attorney General Harris.

"This will go a long way toward providing a data-driven understanding of the problem. Then we can see the patterns of racial profiling. Where is it concentrated? What neighborhoods? Who is targeted? What communities have low numbers of these incidents? Can we find best policing practices for improving race relations in other communities? That's how effective policy is made," said Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego).

Law enforcement agencies must collect and annually report to the California Department of Justice complaints against peace and custodial officers, including those alleging criminal conduct of a felony or misdemeanor, non-criminal complaints, and complaints alleging racial or identity profiling.  Police and Sheriff’s departments will be required to parse out from the total number of complaints, the number of complaints made from inmates admitted to a local detention facility. For complaints involving racial or identity profiling, law enforcement agencies will further have to collect and report the specific type(s) of profiling alleged: based on race and ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, mental disability, or physical disability.  In addition to providing the total number of complaints reported, law enforcement agencies must also report the status and/or resolution of the complaint: sustained, exonerated, not sustained, unfounded, or pending.  The DOJ will receive the first updated reports from law enforcement agencies beginning in 2017.

The California Department of Justice is making a new form available to law enforcement agencies for capturing and reporting this expanded set of complaints submitted by civilians.  The information bulletin and the new reporting form are available on the California Department of Justice website: www.oag.ca.gov/law.

In the bulletin, Attorney General Harris also reminded law enforcement agencies of their responsibilities to establish a procedure to investigate complaints by members of the public against sworn officers, and make those procedures available to the public.

Since January 2015, Attorney General Harris has taken several steps to strengthen the trust between law enforcement and California communities.  These actions include:

  • Directing the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement to conduct a 90-Day Review of its special agent trainings on implicit bias and use of force.
  • Initiating a body camera pilot program for DOJ special agents.
  • Convening law enforcement, youth, and community organizations to facilitate discourse about the best ways to cultivate trust and positive relationships.
  • Creating the 21st Century Policing Working Group to foster discussion regarding implicit bias and building community trust, and to share best practices.
  • Launching OpenJustice, a first-of-its-kind criminal justice open data initiative that is releasing unprecedented information with a focus on being interactive and highlighting data stories.  
  • Training police executives from 29 different law enforcement agencies in a Principled Policing Course, a POST Certified Training on Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice.
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