- Richard Garcia
(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) introduced AB 750, which closes a loophole to ensure that police officers who make false reports are held accountable.
“Current law provides an opportunity for one officer to make a false statement in a police report and evade criminal charges by having a second officer write and file the report for them,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “As Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, it is imperative we ensure officer accountability for their false statements, especially when those false statements can determine individuals’ experiences with the criminal justice system.”
In practice, an officer could tell their partner, a report-writing deputy, to include in their report that “the suspect hit the officer,” when in reality the suspect did not do so. If the report-writing deputy did not see whether the first officer was hit, and the deputy simply writes what the first officer said into their report, the first officer would escape criminal charges by having the deputy write and file the peace officer report. This system provides officers an avenue to escape accountability for their false police reports.
In 2020, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) conducted an investigation into deputies who wrote and filed reports that falsely stated evidence had been booked. The OCDA found these reports were not written or filed by the same officer who was supposed to book the evidence. They also discovered a deputy knowingly wrote and filed a false report to protect the officer who made a false statement from criminal prosecution. The officers who made the false statements could not be held responsible because they had not been the report-writing deputy.
“Prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges rely on the statements contained in police reports every day. If we cannot trust that those statements are true and accurate, a defendant’s right to a fair trial may be violated and the entire criminal justice system is compromised,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “This bill allows prosecutors to hold police officers who knowingly and intentionally make or cause to be made, a false statement regarding the commission of a crime, accountable in a court of law. Honesty and integrity are the essentials of the rule of law and we as prosecutors have a duty to vigorously protect the system.”
AB 750 has been introduced and is pending referral in the Assembly.
Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the 59th Assembly District and the communities of South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, Huntington Park and Exposition Park. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, please visit https://a59.asmdc.org/