The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, known as POST, publishes well over a hundred video training courses for local police forces. I learned recently that POST is subject1 to the California Public Records Act and a couple weeks ago I sent them a request for all their training videos.2 There are 124 of these videos, and ultimately POST agreed to send 79 of them.
However, Phil Caporale, the POST staffer who’s handling the request, claimed that the other 45 were exempt from release. His first attempt at an explanation for withholding them was that they “are deemed Law Enforcement sensitive”3 and that therefore they were exempt from release via the infamous §6255(a) catch-all exemption. Also at first he didn’t tell me how many videos he was withholding or which ones they were.
Now, §6255(a) is by far the most often abused section of the law. It allows agencies to withhold records without a specific authorizing exemption when “on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.”4 But the section is very clear that “the facts of the particular case” must support the decision to withhold. It’s not enough, not at all, for an agency to make something up, like that they “are deemed Law Enforcement sensitive,” as a justification for invoking 6255(a).
After I pressed him a little he informed me that to release these 45 videos would endanger the safety of both the public and of officers. He also listed the 45 videos he was proposing to withhold.5 The list is transcribed at the end of this post and you can also find it in this PDF of Caporale’s email. But that bit in §6255(a) about the “facts of the particular case” isn’t in there for nothing. It requires agencies to have an explanation for each withheld record that’s based on specific facts about that record.6 Continue reading The California Commission On Peace Officer Standards And Training — POST — Publishes 124 Different Police Training Videos — POST Staffer Phil Caporale Refused To Release 45 Of Them In Response To My Request For Public Records — Claiming That To Do So Would Endanger Public And Officer Safety — But He’s Ignoring The Law — Which Requires Him To Balance That Putative Public Interest Against The Public Interest In Releasing These Training Materials — And In A Week Where California Police Have Attacked — Tortured — Beaten — Arrested — Shot — Killed — Peacefully Assembled Protesters — The Public Interest In Seeing How Cops Are Trained In Crowd Management — Crowd Control — And How That Training Compares To Their Actual Violent Behavior — Is So Cosmically High That It’s Basically Insurmountable — Not That This Truth Matters To Caporale — Who Like So Many Antisocial Public Officials Is Just Making Stuff Up To Justify His Predetermined Outcome — Just Mumbling Meaningless Words — Which Is Also Contempt For The Public — Which Also Endangers Our Safety