SAN BERNARDINO – The Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association filed a legal challenge today against retroactive enforcement of Senate Bill 1421 and asked for an urgent stay against the County of San Bernardino from applying the bill to public records requests of incidents before Jan. 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 1421, effective at the beginning of 2019, created four distinct categories in which peace officer personnel records would become public record. While SB 1421 represents a significant change in the laws relating to disclosure of peace officer personnel files going forward, the legislation does not condone the release of those files relating to incidents occurring prior to the effective date.

The County of San Bernardino stated in a letter dated Dec. 13, 2018 its intent to retroactively apply the legislation’s amendments to personnel records.

“SEBA is very concerned about any plans to retroactively apply Senate Bill 1421,” said SEBA President Grant Ward. “We believe retroactive application violates our members’ rights and we hope the California Supreme Court will consider the serious issues raised by our legal challenge.”

Retroactive enforcement of Senate Bill 1421 would result in the disclosure of personnel records from incidents occurring before the bill’s effective date, despite any express direction from the legislature to do so. SEBA seeks urgent relief from the California Supreme Court. We have asked the Court to issue an immediate stay against the County of San Bernardino – and all law enforcement agencies – from applying SB 1421 retroactively.

SEBA employed Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver P.C. (RLS) to file the legal challenge on behalf of its members.

“The legal challenge filed today asserts that, despite the absence of any express legislative direction for retroactivity in Senate Bill 1421, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and likely numerous other public agencies throughout the state, will produce existing confidential peace officer personnel records,” said Timothy Talbot, Partner at RLS.

The release of those records before the bill’s effective date would cause irreparable harm to the statutory and constitutional rights of SEBA members, as peace officers’ personnel records received legal protection prior to Senate Bill 1421.

*The Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefits Association (SEBA) represents 3,850 law enforcement professionals in San Bernardino County, including sheriff’s deputies, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants; DA investigators and supervisors; Coroner’s investigators; Probation supervisors and probation corrections officers; Welfare Fraud investigators and specialized fire personnel.

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