By Robert Lewis and Jason Paladino, KQED | Their crimes ranged from shoplifting to embezzlement to murder. Some of them molested kids and downloaded child pornography. Others beat their wives, girlfriends or children.
The one thing they had in common: a badge.
Thousands of California law enforcement officers have been convicted of a crime in the past decade, according to records released by a public agency that sets standards for officers in the Golden State.
The revelations are alarming, but the state’s top cop says Californians don’t have a right to see them. In fact, Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned two Berkeley-based reporters that simply possessing this never-before-publicly released list of convicted cops is a violation of the law.
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training — known as POST — provided the information last month in response to routine public records requests from reporters for the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and its production arm, Investigative Studios.
But when Becerra’s office learned about the disclosure, it threatened the reporters with legal action unless they destroyed the records, insisting they are confidential under state law and were released inadvertently.
The two journalism organizations have rejected the attorney general’s demands.
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