On January 3, 2019, the California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement issued Information Bulletin 2019-DLE-01(“Bulletin”) instructing all California law enforcement agencies to preserve all records that may be subject to disclosure as a result of Senate Bill 1421. The Bulletin provides a specific list of applicable files that should be preserved, including but not limited to electronic communications regarding the potential destruction of covered information.
It should be noted that information bulletins are issued by the California Department of Justice to advise criminal justice and applicant agencies of changes in departmental regulations and policies. While informative, this Bulletin fails to address or cite to any controlling law that supports the instruction for law enforcement agencies to preserve all records that may be subject to disclosure as a result of Senate Bill 1421 when those records may otherwise be lawfully destroyed. California law permits Counties and Cities to destroy records according to lawfully established retention policies and procedures. Senate Bill 1421 does not create a new duty to retain records that may be lawfully destroyed. Accordingly, this Bulletin should be considered a reminder for law enforcement agencies to adhere to existing records retention policies that have been established according to California Law.