Peace officer lobbyists are making a bold move to take their members—all police, sheriff’s and other sworn law enforcement personnel— entirely off the public record and into the shadows of anonymity.

The Hayward Daily Review reports that an amendment to a bill introduced this week in Sacramento seeks to push police salary and other basic information about officers, including their names, out of public view. The bill comes on the heels of two state Supreme Court decisions last year finding that salaries and other basic information about police and other peace officers, including their names, are indeed public information. A Sacramento Bee editorial reports  that the author may already be backpedaling, but not soon enough to show what he and police rights advocates had in mind as shown in three passages that the bill would add to the law.

The amendment proposed to be inserted into Penal Code Section 832.7 is as follows:

Personnel records and records maintained by any state or local agency, or information obtained from these records, containing personnel data, including the peace officer’s or custodial officer’s name and salary information, are confidential, and shall not be disclosed except as provided by this section.  These records shall not be subject to any mass disclosure, including posting or publishing on the Internet.

The latter language is probably an attempt to block from obtaining and posting on its site police and sheriff’s department rosters, which form the matrix for public comments praising or criticizing individual officers by name.

The definition of confidential personnel information in Penal Code Section 832.8 that must be withheld would be amended to include

(the) individual’s identity as a peace officer or custodial officer, badge number, or undercover officer status, home telephone number, home Internet address, individual salary information . . .

Individual salary information of non-undercover officers was determined by the California Supreme Court last year to be a matter of public record and not confidential under Section 832.7 in International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21, AFL-CIO v. Superior Court of Alameda County, 42 Cal.4th 319. 

The bill would finally make confidential

Any other information maintained by any other state agency, including the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, and any other local agency.

Here the attempt is to disapprove the other 2007 California Supreme Court decision offensive to law enforcement unions like PORAC, Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training v. Superior Court of Sacramento County, 42 Cal.4th 278, in which the majority held that standard information compiled by the POST Commission on officers’ names, hire dates and separation dates at their various places of employment was likewise not private or confidential, having no relationship to citizen complaints, remarking, “The public’s legitimate interest in the identity and activities of peace officers is even greater than its interest in those of the average public servant.”