From the Sacramento Bee:
[O]pen-records advocates say California residents today have some of the least access to law enforcement records of anywhere in the country. Bills to tighten the restrictions, pushed by politically influential law enforcement unions, routinely sail through the Legislature. Attempts to provide more disclosure have been few and unsuccessful.
Under state law, peace officer personnel records are confidential, including personal data, promotion, appraisal and discipline records, and “any other information the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Only a judge can order their release as part of a criminal case or lawsuit.
The restrictions regularly come into play. In Lodi, police officials have released little about the officers involved in the Jan. 25 shooting of Parminder Singh Shergill, an Iraq War veteran. In West Sacramento, Latino groups demanded information after the June 2005 police beating of brothers Ernesto and Fermin Galvan. There also was anger at the lack of details following the April 2009 shooting of Luis Gutierrez Navarro by Yolo County sheriff’s deputies.
Civil-rights lawyer Cruz Reynoso said community members in such cases confront a police “wall of silence.”