In a joint investigation, ColorLines magazine and The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute has found the 2006 ruling Copley Press v. Superior Court, combined with California state laws that protect police privacy, has blocked the public from knowing whether local police officers have engaged in misconduct, or a pattern of misconduct, even when such misconduct involves officers inappropriately shooting civilians.

Our investigation has discovered dozens of officers in the Fresno Police Department who have been involved in repeated inappropriate shootings of civilians.

ColorLines journalist Ali Winston finds:

A California Public Records Act Request uncovered a previously withheld list of 27 Fresno police officers involved in repeat shootings of civilians from 2002 through 2009, 25 of whom, according to an official with the Fresno Police Department, are still on active duty today. In the context of a statewide investigation focusing in on four major police departments, the Fresno Police Department stands out in scale. During the same period, the similarly sized Oakland Police Department had only five officers involved in repeat shootings, although Fresno enjoys a much lower crime rate.

What’s worse, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office recently acknowledged its decision to stop investigating cases where police officers have been involved in shootings; this means now only the city’s police auditor is in a position to hold the department accountable.

We will continue looking at police departments throughout California in the coming months, identifying those where repeat offenders of police violence remain on the force and hidden from the public.

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