Update: The agenda item concerned with police record destruction has been removed from next week’s Long Beach City Council agenda. “We’re reevaluating all of our processes to ensure we’re maintaining transparency,” LBPD public information officer Arantxa Chavarria said.
Despite a week of anti-police brutality protests, the Long Beach City Council has an agenda item for the destruction of police use of force review records at next week’s June 16 meeting.
In addition to use of force reviews, the records included internal affairs complaint investigations and police compliance reviews, all of which are from 2014.
The item is tucked away in the consent agenda for the city council meeting on June 16, a list of items that are usually approved in one vote without discussion.
The Signal Tribune reviewed three years of city council agendas and found that, since 2017, the council has approved the destruction of police records 22 times.
The destroyed files include three years of use of force reviews, 25 years of internal affairs complaint investigations and seven years of domestic violence case records, among other documents.
Police offices are allowed to destroy records of civilian complaints of police misconduct, but only after they’ve retained the records for at least five years.
The Long Beach Police Department seems to be aware of this fact. An analysis of city council documents revealed that LBPD usually requests the destruction of use of force records almost exactly five years after their creation.
The Long Beach Police Department has faced criticism in the past for their lack of transparency in providing these records to people who seek them under the Public Records Act.
In late 2019, the Beachcomber sued the LBPD for not providing police misconduct records.
Public concern about police misconduct has intensified recently. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has prompted nationwide protests. Just this week, a LBPD officer was fired after posting a photo on Instagram of a baton and a bloody sidewalk while on duty. Many protesters are calling for city officials to defund the police.
The Signal Tribune contacted the LBPD media relations department for a comment on this story, but we have not received a response back.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the destruction of records agenda item was on yesterday’s June 9 agenda. It is on next week’s June 16 agenda.