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Atty. Gen. Becerra deserves praise, not criticism, for standing up for police officers’ privacy

Atty. Gen. Becerra deserves praise, not criticism, for standing up for police officers’ privacy
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra speaks at a news conference in Sacramento on Jan. 24, 2019. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

To the editor: The Los Angeles Times gets it wrong in its editorial attacking state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s caution in releasing the personnel records of law enforcement workers.

Becerra is correct in utilizing caution in releasing records of allegations, mind you, not convictions, of police misconduct. The Times fails to ignore the consequences on the futures and reputations of law enforcement officers when the allegations are untruthful and in some cases even without any foundation in reality.

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Interestingly, The Times is not willing to give the people responsible for protecting our society the same basic due process that every criminal defendant receives.

Robert S. Henry, San Gabriel

The writer is a retired California deputy attorney general.

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To the editor: Becerra misses the point when he justifies his refusal to release law enforcement disciplinary records because, “When it comes to disclosing a person’s private information, you don’t get a second chance to get it right.”

Those records are not “private information.” No employee, whether in the public or private sector, has “a reasonable expectation of privacy” concerning his on-duty behavior vis-a-vis his or her employer.

Thus, employees of public entities, being ultimately employees of the residents of the state of California, have no privacy rights regarding their employment records; they are, in fact, public records.

Becerra’s refusal to release the records is particularly egregious because his professional and ethical duty is to protect the interests of the people of California.

Carolyn Magnuson, Tucson, Ariz.

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