Two California journalists requested and were given data on police officers' arrests and convictions over the past 10 years. Domestic abuse, child molestation – even murder.
But California Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra says it's a mistake, and they never got it in the first place. Becerra – whose office is responsible for maintaining the information – said that it was not authorized to do so. He wants to study UC Berkeley's Investigative Reporting Program and its two journalists.
But the Berkeley journalists believe they are on solid legal footing, and are standing their ground.
A California accrediting body called the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. It receives criminal system data from the Department of Justice to assist in setting up the standards of many agencies' records for police officers.
On Dec. 6, UC Berkeley reporter Robert Lewis in a public records request with the commission for a convicted convoy of a crime. Lewis said his reporting partner, Jason Paladino, was in a similar request about the same time, too. Soon thereafter, Lewis received an email acknowledging receipt of the request. A few weeks later a second message requested extension to compile the relevant records.
On Jan. 8, both received two files containing a spreadsheet with 12,000 names. Lewis said it included "current and former peace officers and applicants, and individuals who applied and went through part of the process and then got rejected."
It's unclear how or why Becerra's office became aware of the commission's accidental disclosure to the journalists.
Three weeks later The attorney general, who had learned what had happened, had sent a letter to Lewis and Paladino, putting them on notice: they had "inadvertently" been given confidential criminal history and were breaking the law by "possessing" the spreadsheet
Lewis told The Post t
"I was stunned, shocked – all the range of emotions you might have imagined – and continue to be," he said of receiving a record via a public record
In a news conference Friday, Becerra – who is a Democrat – called the rumors of veiled threats against journalists a "false narrative."
"I respect the importance of a free Jan. 8 action a "mistake." "If innocent people get caught up in this, that's not right. "
The First Amendment protects the right to publish. The Supreme Court has affirmed that it is against countervailing state interests, including the names of the victims of the crime and the government officials First Amendment Foundation.
The caveat, though, is the published information on a matter of public concern.
"If the information meets that standard, they can not criminalize its publication," she said that there's interest in keeping certain information private. DeCell.
These events follow what Lewis calls a Californian "impenetrable wall of secrecy"
"We're talking about a police officer who was arrested, accused of a crime by another law enforcement agency, formally in a court of law, going through adjudication and at the end of it either."
Within the spreadsheet Lewis cited "Important information to be asked." For example, a San Francisco officer was accused of being accused and convicted of accessing confidential records. Another was convoked of unauthorized access of information.
"San Francisco citizens missed the opportunity to know that there might be a problem and ask for oversight of confidential information," he explained
For now, it seems to be on both sides at an impasse.
At Friday's news conference, Becerra made clear that the scenario is "a difficult one."
"I'm all for investigative journalism, especially in this day and age, in this country, but you can not play it. The Berkeley Center did nothing wrong in securing the information.
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