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Police Officer Privileges Legal Update: Tony M. Sain Explains California’s Narrowing of Pitchess Confidentiality for Officer Records and Force Recordings

In September 2018, the California Legislature adopted two new statutes that will dramatically erode the confidentiality protections for law enforcement personnel records and critical incident recordings. Under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), SB1421 and AB 748 will make discoverable several categories of police personnel records and related use of force recordings which were previously exempt from public records disclosures. The bills – which will go into effect in 2019 – also place limits on the types of information that can be redacted from these records, and how long they can be temporarily withheld pending a criminal or administrative investigation.

MKERT Public Entity Defense Team Partner Tony M. Sain, a leading expert on Pitchess privilege law, has written an update on what protections the laws have eliminated, which protections still exist, and how law enforcement agencies can respond to the changes: in order to limit both their liability and new administrative burdens. He will also be publishing an updated version of his book on the subject (“The Pitchess Privileges: Police Officer Personnel Record Procedural Protections in Civil Cases”), in connection with a series of educational seminars, beginning Spring 2019. You can download and read the update here. For additional information about the updated book or upcoming seminars, please contact Sam Ritchie at

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