SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court appeared inclined during a hearing Tuesday to favor a ruling that the public has the right to know the names of police officers involved in shootings.
During oral arguments, most members of the state high court seemed skeptical of contentions by police agencies that officer names must be kept secret because disclosure could jeopardize officer safety and involve protected police personnel matters.
Justice Marvin R. Baxter questioned whether police agencies would refuse to release the names of officers involved in acts of heroism.
The Long Beach Police Officers Assn. fought the request, losing in the trial and appeals courts and then appealing to the state's highest court. The police group, joined by other California law enforcement associations, argued that state law bars disclosure of the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings.
The Times, joined by other media and the California-based ACLU, argued the public was entitled to know the identity of officers who have used lethal force.
There is "no greater exercise of government power than the power to take someone's life," Kelli L. Sager, representing The Times, told the court.
Long Beach has never released the names sought by the newspaper.
A ruling by the high court is due within 90 days.