About The Public Information Portal
The Palo Alto Police Department is
committed to informing the public about police activities, Department policies, and agency practices. We
value accountability, integrity, and openness while serving our community.
This page is intended to share Department materials that are available for
public viewing. Please click on the quick links below to view our information. For more information on specific police incidents and additional documents, scroll down the page and expand the accordions near the bottom.
New State Laws Requiring Release of Police Records: Recent State Law enacted, including
California Senate Bill 1421 and Assembly Bill 748, both require release of police records in certain
limited types of police incidents. The types of cases that qualify under these laws are officer-involved
shootings, uses of force that result in death or great bodily injury, sustained findings of sexual assault,
and sustained findings of dishonesty.
Why the Department is Releasing Materials Now: You may be asking why the Police
Department is releasing these videos now. Prior to disclosing records under these laws, active
investigations need to either be concluded or reach a point where disclosure would not substantially
interfere with that investigation. These laws also required Police Department personnel to develop new
procedures and administrative functions, to conduct detailed audio and video redaction work necessary to
safeguard privacy in certain circumstances, and to ensure compliance with all laws and privacy protections
through legal review.
Three Palo Alto Cases Fall Under State Law Disclosure: The two referenced California
State laws were enacted and took effect in 2019. The first law went into effect on
January 1, 2019. Consistent with State law, police records retention schedule for
administrative investigations, is to hold records in the current year plus the five prior years.
Based on the City’s review of the State laws, since January 1, 2014, there are three cases that
qualify for release. Records from all three of those cases appear below in their relevant category. (Records
released as of June and July 2020)
Police Briefings Released Seek to Increase Public Understanding of Materials Released:
In evaluating best practices of other agencies releasing similar materials, the Police Department
established procedures to narrate Police Briefing Videos (expand the "Police Incidents" section below) to
provide context that may increase the public’s understanding of what they are watching in the raw
video of the incident. Senate Bill 1421 and Assembly Bill 748 only require the records themselves be
Police Records Released Are Limited in Scope to the Specific Use of Force Details: The
Police Briefing Videos are limited in scope and breadth to the purpose of addressing the underlying reason
for disclosure based on City review of the State laws (e.g., a use of force that results in death or great
bodily injury, sustained findings of sexual assault, and sustained findings of dishonesty). Their intent is
not to provide a detailed accounting of the entire incident from start to finish, a justification or
Department finding on the conduct of our personnel, or even the outcome of the case. The information
included in the narration is derived from facts known to the police or information taken directly from the
official reports of the incident.
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