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The California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) is California state law that gives the public the right to inspect and copy many records retained by governmental agencies in the course of business. When enacting the CPRA, the California legislature declared "that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person" in the state. (Gov Code § 6250) The purpose of the CPRA is to safeguard the accountability of government to the public. (Rogers v. Superior Court (1993) 19 cal. App. 4th 469) The CPRA regulates the public's access to the records and contains limited defined exemptions where records need not be disclosed.
A public record is any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristic. (Gov. Code 6252(e)) "Writing" means any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing, any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.(Gov Code 6252 (g))
Any member of the public can make a Public Records Act request. A "member of the public" includes any person except a "member, agent, officer, or employee of a federal, state, or local agency acting within the scope of his or her membership, agency, office, or employment”. (Gov Code 6252(b))
Yes. A requester is not required to provide their name when making a request. In order to receive the records, the requester will need to provide their choice of email or mailing address.
No. The CPRA specifically provides every person a right to inspect or receive copies of any public record, subject to specified exceptions. (Gov Code 6253(a))
While there are many ways to make a CPRA requests, the Sheriff has made a CPRA unit within the Professional Standards Bureau to process CPRA requests. Once a CPRA request is received, the requester will receive a notification email which will provide a brief summary of the request and a tentative date for a response from the CPRA unit. A requester may choose to have the CPRA response from the Department’s portal (suggested), via email, via standard mail, or by picking the documents up in person. Charges may apply to either mail the requested records or to pick up the requested records in person.
Routine requests for reports can oftentimes be made at the patrol station responsible for the jurisdiction where the report was taken. The Department recommends members of the public contact their local patrol station to determine if their requested report is available through the station prior to making a CPRA request.
No. The CPRA expressly exempts particular public records from disclosure. The CPRA also provides agencies with an exemption which can be applied after a review of the records to determine whether a document is exempt from disclosure on a case by case basis.
No. A request may be made in writing, verbally, or via our online portal.
The Department provides several options the requester may use to make a CPRA request:
In writing to:
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
ATTN: CPRA Unit
4095 Lemon Street, 1st Floor
Riverside CA 92501
(Options C and D, in most cases, will result in a quicker response)
Public records are always open to inspection during the public lobby hours at Sheriff’s facilities open to the public. Any reasonably segregable portion of a record will be made available for inspection after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law. (Gov Code 6253(a))
Some records may not be available for immediate inspection as it may be necessary to review and redact portions of the record(s). (Cal. Gov. Code § 6253(a); American Civ. Liberties Union Found’n v. Deukmejian (1982) 32 Cal.3d 440, 452-454)
Some of the Department’s most commonly requested records are proactively posted online. Please visit our Transparency page and scroll down to the middle of the page to determine if the requested record is available there before making a CPRA request.
Yes, to the extent determined to be reasonable under the circumstances. Under legislation effective January 1, 2002, when a member of the public makes a request to inspect or obtain a copy of a public record, CPRA staff is to assist the individual in making a focused and effective request that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records, shall do all the following to the extent reasonable under the circumstances:
(i) Assist the individual to identify records and information that are responsive to the request or purpose of the request, if stated;
(ii) Describe information technology and physical location in which the record exists; and
(iii) Provide suggestions for overcoming any practical basis for denyingaccess to the records or information sought. (Gov Code 6253.1)
The requirements are satisfied if CPRA Unit staff are unable to identify the requested information after making a reasonable effort. CPRA Unit staff are not required to aid if the records are made available, the records are expressly exempt from disclosure, or an index of the record is made available. (Gov Code 6253.1(b))
The Department must respond to a CPRA request no later than 10 days from the date of receipt of the request. (Gov Code 6253 (c))
However, the CPRA cannot be used to delay or obstruct the inspection or the copying of records. Thus, the Department may not arbitrarily wait until the 10th day to provide easily identifiable and disclosable records. The Department should notify the requestor as soon as reasonably possible if a determination can be made sooner. (Gov Code 6253 (d))
Within the 10-day period, the Department must do all the following:
(i) Determine whether the request seeks copies of records subject to disclosure;
(ii) Promptly notify the person of the Department's determination; and
(iii) State reasons for the Department's determination. (Gov Code 6253 (c)
The response will include an estimated cost of providing copies (if any) and may require a deposit or prior payment. (Gov Code 27366; Cal. Pub. Records Research Inc. v County of Yolo, (2016) 4 Cal. App 5th 150)
Yes, but for unusual circumstances. The time to respond with a determination of whether the request seeks copies of disclosable documents may be extended by no more than 14 days. (Gov Code 6253 (c))
When the Department makes the determination that the request seeks disclosable public records, the Department will provide the estimated date and time when the records will be made available. (Gov. Code 6253 (c))
"Unusual circumstances" include:
Yes. The CPRA Unit must prepare a written notice setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be completed. If the Department determines that the request seeks disclosable public records, the written notice shall also include an estimated date when the records will be made available. (Gov. Code 6253 (c))
When the record contains both exempt and nonexempt materials, the nonexempt materials that may be reasonably segregated from the exempt materials are to be disclosed to satisfy the objectives of the CPRA. (Gov. Code 6253(a); Northern Cal. Police Practices Project v. Craig (1979) 90 Cal.App.3d 116, 123-124)
The CPRA Unit will review potentially responsive records to determine whether an exemption may exclude disclosure of the document or whether the document should be redacted prior to disclosure.
Yes, if all the following conditions are met:
(i) the record is subject to disclosure;
(ii)the Department holds the information in electronic format; and
(ii) a release in electronic format does not compromise the security or integrity of the original record or jeopardize the proprietary software in which it is maintained (Gov. Code 6253(d)(1)(B)(2))
Yes, if the Department uses that format to make copies for its own use, or for use by other agencies.
Yes. The Department may charge for direct costs of duplication. (Gov. Code 6253(b))
Any estimated costs of providing the copies, will be provided in the written response to the request. Applicable requests may require a deposit or prior payment. When producing electronic records, direct costs of producing the records may be if there are direct costs to construct a record and/or the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy of the record. (Gov. Code 6253(b))
Fees may apply when the Department would be required to produce a copy of an electronic record and the record is one that is produced only at otherwise regularly scheduled intervals request would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record. ((Gov. Code 6253(b)(1)); Gov. Code 6253(b)(2); National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter v. City of Hayward et al. (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 937)
Sometimes. Upon the request for a copy of records, the Department is limited to payment
of fees covering the direct cost of duplication which is the direct cost of making the copies. (Gov. Code 6253(b); North Carolina Parents Organization for Children with Special Needs v. Department of Education (1994) 23 Cal.App.41)
Upon the request for electronic records, the requester shall bear the cost of producing a record, including the cost to construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy, if:
(i) The Department would be required to produce a copy of an electronic record between regularly scheduled intervals of production, or
(ii)Compliance with the request for an electronic record would require data compilation, extraction, or programming in order to produce the record. (Gov. Code 6253.9(b))
The Department has no duty to create a record that does not exist at the time of the
request nor does the Department have a duty to reconstruct a record that was lawfully discarded prior to the receipt of the request. (Gov. Code 6252(e))
Additionally, the Department is not required to create a privilege log or a list that identifies the specific records being withheld. (Haynie v. Superior Court (2001) 26 Cal.4th 1061, 1075)
Generally, County records must be retained by local agencies for two years. (Gov. Code 26202) It should be noted that the Department is in possession of many different types of records. The retention period for these records vary and are determined by the County of Riverside Retention Schedule. Once a CPRA request is made, the CPRA Unit will advise the requester if their request is beyond the retention period for the request in question.
The County of Riverside, California Departmental Records Retention Schedule form DRRS-SHF-2019-Rev04 lays out the Department’s records retention policy. The form is available at the Riverside County Records Office or through a CPRA request to the County of Riverside.
A request for public records may be denied if the CPRA expressly exempts those records from disclosure. Also, the request may also be denied under the balancing test, referred to as the catchall exception. (Gov. Code 6255) Under this test, the Department must determine on a case by case basis, whether the public interest in disclosure is outweighed by the public interest in nondisclosure.
Yes, there are express exemptions, which are in addition to general exemptions which agencies may assert. The California State legislature declared that after January 1, 1999, each addition or amendment to a statute that exempts any information contained in a public record from disclosure shall be listed in the CRPA. (Government Code Sections 6275-6276.03)
Yes, if the request for records was in writing and the Department is denying the request in whole or in part. (Gov. Code 6255(b))
Yes. In their written response, the Department must demonstrate that the record is exempt under express provisions of law, or that based on the facts, the public interest served by withholding the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record. (Gov. Code 6255(a)(b))
No. If the records are subject to disclosure and there are no applicable exemptions, the records must be released. (Gov. Code 6257.5)
No. Pursuant to a California Supreme Court decision, the Department cannot file a declaratory relief action to ask the court to determine whether the Department must disclose the records. (Filarsky v. Superior Court (City of Manhattan Beach) (2002) 28 Cal.4th 419, 121 Cal.Rptr.2d 844; 49 P.3d 194)
The exclusive means for litigating the issue under the CPRA is for the requester to file a court action requesting for injunctive or declaratory relief or writ of mandate to enforce his or her right to inspect or receive a copy of any public record.
The individual requesting the records may seek a court order. If the court finds the Department improperly withheld disclosure of the records, the requestor may be entitled to court costs and reasonable attorney's fees. (Gov. Code 6258)
No, if the written legal communication falls within any exemption or privilege. Communications that are exempt from disclosure are outlined in Government Code 6254 and 6255.
Though sections of the Department Standards Manual (DSM) may arguably be exempted under the CPRA, the Department has made the decision to establish a large amount of transparency with the public and has posted Department Policies and the DSM under the Transparency page Department Manuals and Policies.
Generally, a police report by number and incident is exempt from disclosure. (Gov. Code 6254(f)) Exemptions and/or potential redactions include records of complaints to, or investigations conducted by the Department, of intelligence information or security procedures of the Department, investigatory or security files compiled by any other local or state police agency, customer lists provided by an alarm or security company and investigatory or security files compiled by any state or local agency for correctional, law enforcement, or licensing. (Supra)
Disclosed records will also be subject to potential redactions if disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. (Cal. Gov. Code 6253(a); American Civ. Liberties Union Found’n v. Deukmejian (1982) 32 Cal.3d 440, 452-454)
Additionally, a general request for all police reports on a particular individual is not disclosable, with certain caveats. (Pen. Code 13300 et seq.)
No, a full report is exempt from disclosure under the CPRA (Numerous exemptions for on-going investigations); however, the Department may disclose certain information related to ongoing investigations. The Department may disclose some information regarding everyone arrested by the agency, unless the disclosure of a particular item of information would endanger the safety of a person involved in an investigation or would endanger the successful completion of the investigation or a related investigation. The Department may also disclose certain information regarding the time, substance, and location of an incident as well as the crimes alleged against an individual and the name and ages of victims, unless, in the case of certain defined crimes, the victim or victim's parent/guardian has requested the victim's information be confidential. Finally, criminal offender records will not be disclosed. (Gov. Code 6254(f); PC13300, 13301)
Reports regarding a juvenile which could potentially make the juvenile a ward of the court are not to be disclosed for any reason. (T.N.G. v. Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco (1971) 4 Cal.3d 767; Wescott v. County of Yuba (1980) 104 Cal.App.3d 103)
The party making the request may file a petition with the Juvenile Court pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Section 827. The court may order disclosure of some or all the requested information.
Yes, the Department will redact information for privacy reasons as allowed by law. Specific exemptions in the CPRA include:
Generally, Body Worn Camera (“BWC”) footage is exempt from disclosure under the CPRA. (Gov. Code 6254 et. seq., Penal Code 832.5, 832.7, 832.8, and Evidence Code 1043, 1046)
In some instances, BWC footage may be released; however, BWC footage is subject to the same potential redactions as other "writings." Absent a valid court order or other statutory authority, body cam videos are subject to the same restrictions as crime reports and other "writings". Such restrictions include, but are not limited to, information such as the addresses, telephone numbers, and names of sexual assault victims, or victims of domestic violence and victims who have requested their information not be disclosed. (Gov. Code 6254(f)(2))
Absent a waiver by the Department, BWC footage will only be released, subject to redactions, in instances where:
Additionally, Assembly Bill 748 (“AB 748”), which amended certain portions of Government Code section 6254, became effective on July 1, 2019. Per AB 748 video and audio recordings that relate to an incident involving the discharge of a firearm at a person or an incident involving the use of force which resulted in great bodily injury or death, by a peace or custodial officer, will be released except in certain circumstances. ((Government Code 6254(f)(4)); (Government Code 6254(f)(4)(C)(i)); (Government Code 6254(f)(4)(C)(ii))))
These circumstances include:
Traffic accident reports are generally only released to people who were involved in the accident or who have other legitimate interests in the information provided, such as insurance companies. (Vehicle Code 16005)
In general, information relating to individuals who hold Carry Concealed Weapons (“CCW”) permits is disclosable. However, information that may place the permit holder at risk of being a victim of a crime is not to be disclosed, such as the address and reason for the permit. Additionally, information that concerns the applicant's medical or psychological history, or that of members of his or her family, will not be disclosed. (Gov. Code 6254(u)(1)-(3))
Often Department personnel records are exempt from disclosure, however, in specific situations a record within the overall file may be released outside of a court order. In 2019 and 2022, the California State Legislature mandated the release of applicable portions of a peace officer’s personnel records in cases where:
The Department will redact information where, on the facts of the case, the public interest served by not disclosing the information clearly outweighs the public interest served by the disclosure of the information. (Pen. Code 832.7(b)(6))
The Department would call this type of request a “Calls for Service” request and, in general, this information is subject to disclosure. (Gov. Code 6254)
However, just as in police reports, certain information will be redacted. That information includes certain information such as the addresses, telephone numbers, and names of sexual assault victims, or victims of domestic violence. (Gov. Code 6254(f))
The address and telephone number of the victim or witness of a crime cannot be disclosed to the defendant or a suspect of the crime, except to the defendant's attorney through normal discovery procedures. (Penal Code 841 .5)
Information related to minors may be withheld at the request of the minor's parent or guardian. (Gov. Code 6254; Welfare & Inst. Code 827 and 828)
Information that would violate a person's right to privacy in their medical information is also exempt from disclosure. (Gov. Code 6254 et seq.)
No. This information is not subject to disclosure. It is a misdemeanor to release such information. (Pen. Code 13300 et seq.; Pen. Code 11105 et seq.)
There is no definitive answer. These requests are considered on a case by case basis. The facts must be evaluated based on whether disclosure of the materials may compromise officer safety or tactics and interfere with law enforcement. If the request would do either, the materials are not disclosable. (Gov. Code 6254(p)(2))
This information is disclosable for scholarly, journalistic, political, governmental, or investigatory purposes only. The person making the request must sign a declaration that the request is for one of those reasons and not for commercial purposes. (Gov. Code 6254(f)(3))
However, in the disclosed record(s), victim information may be redacted and at no time is victim or witness address or telephone number information available to an arrested person or a person who may be a defendant in a criminal action. (Gov. Code 6254(f)(3); Pen. Code 841 .5)
Yes, with certain exceptions. Employees may have access to most of their personnel records based simply on their status as employees. Under Labor Code Section 1198.5, an employer must allow employees to inspect their personnel records, including records that were used to determine the qualification for employment, promotion, additional compensation or termination, or other disciplinary action. (Gov. Code 31011)
No. Employees do not have a right to inspect records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense, nor may they inspect letters of reference. (Labor Code 1198.5(d)(1)-(2))
Yes, the court upheld an order to release the salaries of all public employees without personal identifying information. (Teamsters Local 856 v. Priceless (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 1500 – Cal. Sup. Ct. denied review and order of depublication)
Teamsters Local 856 v. Priceless was limited to a request for indiscriminate mass disclosure of employee names and salaries. Individual employment contracts for high level local officials are public records pursuant to Government Code Section 6254.8.
Generally, administrative investigations, notes, interviews, findings, etc., are exempt from disclosure under the CPRA. (Gov. Code 6254(a), (c), (f),(k); Gov. Code 6255; Pen. Code 832.5, 832.7, 832.8; and Evid. Code 1043, 1046)
The only exception is those incidents specifically mandated by SB 1421 and SB 16. (For SB 1421, see PC 832.7, 832.8; for SB 16, see Evid. Code 1045, PC 832.5, 832.7, and 832.12-832.13)