Tag Archives: CPRA 6252(g)

LAPD Has Over A Million Historical Photos In Its Archives – Going Back Almost A Hundred Years – These Are Public Records So I Asked For Copies – And They Were All Like No Way! – But In 2001 They Shared These With Some Gallery Owners – Who Put Together An Exhibit – Which Is Still Touring The World After All These Years – And They Are Selling Prints For Hundreds Of Dollars – And The Law is Very Clear That Once The City Lets One Person See Them They Must Let All Other People See Them – So Today I Filed Yet Another Lawsuit Seeking To Compel The City To Hand Over The Damn Goods!

LAPD Archival photo of Black Panther Headquarters
Apparent LAPD arrest of a man for masquerading.
Late last year famous local historians and operators of Esotouric Tours Kim Cooper and Richard Schave drew my attention to a collection of more than a million historic crime photos held in the LAPD archives and dating back to the 1920s. In 2001 the LAPD allowed the owners of the Fototeka Gallery to access these photos, copy them, and exhibit and sell prints for outrageously high prices.

The gallery owners also published and sold a book of selected images.1 Since then, though, the LAPD hadn’t let anyone else look at the pictures. Kim and Richard were lamenting the tragic fact that such important historical material had been cherry-picked by so few individuals, when there are many historians whose work would be enhanced by access – and by extension enhancing Angelenos’ understanding of our city.2


And that is really an understatement. Just look at the few examples scattered around this post, which I took from Fototeka’s site. There is an image from an LAPD men’s room spy camera, a picture of the Black Panther Party Headquarters after the shootout, a man apparently arrested for crossdressing, old buildings, many possibly unintentionally artistic closeups. An unimaginable variety.

These pictures could potentially give unprecedented insight into the LAPD’s past treatment of people of color, of LGBTQ people, gender noncomformists, and so on. Architecture, design, daily life. There is no limit to the public interest in seeing these images, in opening up this whole collection to the public. It is appalling that they’re not available to everyone.

Men’s restroom spy camera shot, 1950.

Now, the California Public Records Act is very, very clear that photographs are public records.3 And it’s also very clear that once a public record has been released to one member of the public it can no longer be withheld from any member of the public.4 Clearly, then, I thought, we are going to get access to these photos! So I submitted a request through the City’s NextRequest platform.

Now, the LAPD is famous for its idiotic denials, and their first response was consistent with their reputation. They told me that I couldn’t have them because they are investigative materials and therefore exempt under §6254(f).5 So I told them about the fact that a release to anyone constitutes a waiver and asked them to change their mind.


They ignored me, as they are wont to do, so I wrote to the City Attorney and asked again. And they also ignored me. So I contacted the incomparable attorney Anna von Herrmann and asked her what she thought. And what she thought was that we should file a petition to force the City to release the photos. And that’s what we did, and here is a copy for you! Read on for some selections.
Continue reading LAPD Has Over A Million Historical Photos In Its Archives – Going Back Almost A Hundred Years – These Are Public Records So I Asked For Copies – And They Were All Like No Way! – But In 2001 They Shared These With Some Gallery Owners – Who Put Together An Exhibit – Which Is Still Touring The World After All These Years – And They Are Selling Prints For Hundreds Of Dollars – And The Law is Very Clear That Once The City Lets One Person See Them They Must Let All Other People See Them – So Today I Filed Yet Another Lawsuit Seeking To Compel The City To Hand Over The Damn Goods!

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Even Though Gavin Newsom — At The Behest Of A Bunch Of Bad BIDdies With Dark And Bloody Secrets To Keep — Vetoed Todd Gloria’s Essential Email Retention Bill — The Question Of Whether Existing Law Already Requires Local Agencies To Retain Emails For Two Years Is Potentially Up Before The California Supreme Court — The Electronic Frontier Foundation And A Host Of Other Government Transparency Advocates Urge The Court To Accept The Case And Find That The Law Does In Fact Prohibit These Book Burners From Destroying Public Records — Here’s A Copy Of The Amicus Letter — And A Little Assorted Ranting Of My Own On This Essential Topic

As you may know, email retention policies among public agencies in California are a mess, with agencies claiming, however implausibly, that they automatically delete emails very rapidly, sometimes even immediately on receipt. This would seem to run afoul of the law at Government Code §34090, which states pretty clearly that cities are not to delete public records less than two years old. And the California Public Records Act at §6252(g) explicitly defines the phrase “public records” to include emails.

But cities and other local agencies such as business improvement districts along with their legal minions have cooked up amongst themselves a theory that emails aren’t covered by §34090 unless they make some kind of specific effort to retain them, like for instance printing them out and putting them in a drawer. This is the kind of theory, very popular among CPRA-subject agencies, that no one actually believes is valid. It’s only meant to hold up in court long enough for the agency to avoid sanctions for flouting the law.

And this year Assemblymember Todd Gloria tried to strangle this nonsense in its metaphorical crib with his AB-1184, which would have clarified that agencies are required to retain emails for two years just like every other kind of record. But agencies lobbied hard against this bill, pushing the narrative that retaining emails for two years would cost too much money. The bill passed the legislature anyway, but our feckless governor vetoed it and essentially let the agencies write his idiotic veto message.

That such a law is essential is not only obvious in theory, but the incredibly dishonest behavior of various local agencies shows how important it is in our very specific practical context.1 So for instance, here behold the entire Board of Directors of the entire Fashion District BID swearing under oath no less that they delete all BID-related emails on receipt and that’s why they don’t ever produce them in response to CPRA requests. And the judge believed them, although he admitted that the whole story was implausible. But no evidence controverted it.
Continue reading Even Though Gavin Newsom — At The Behest Of A Bunch Of Bad BIDdies With Dark And Bloody Secrets To Keep — Vetoed Todd Gloria’s Essential Email Retention Bill — The Question Of Whether Existing Law Already Requires Local Agencies To Retain Emails For Two Years Is Potentially Up Before The California Supreme Court — The Electronic Frontier Foundation And A Host Of Other Government Transparency Advocates Urge The Court To Accept The Case And Find That The Law Does In Fact Prohibit These Book Burners From Destroying Public Records — Here’s A Copy Of The Amicus Letter — And A Little Assorted Ranting Of My Own On This Essential Topic

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