Law helps privacy for officers |

Law helps privacy for officers

It has become harder to learn what police officers look like this year, unless, of course you are pulled over by one.

A law passed by the California State Assembly prohibits state law enforcement agencies from posting officers’ images on the Internet “without their expressed written permission.”

AB 1586, written by Dean Florez, D-Shafter, says a public safety officer need not consent to his or her picture being put on the Internet if they believe “the disclosure may result in a threat, harassment, intimidation or harm to that officer, or their family.”

“This law really concerns something between the agency and its employees. It really doesn’t concern the public at all,” said Steve Gwaltney, of the California Highway Patrol.

The law does not prevent a private company or an individual from posting pictures of police officers or from writing anything about them.

Such a Web site is at the heart of a lawsuit filed last year in Markleeville by Gregory Mason, a South Lake Tahoe-based CHP officer. Mason said he was defamed by a woman whom he arrested in 1993 after a high-speed chase on U.S. Highway 395 between Bishop and Ridgecrest.

The woman, Judy Komaromi, of Fullerton, Calif., claims Mason made sexual comments to her at a truck stop prior to her arrest. She detailed those comments on a Web site entitled “Small Town Justice.”

Several scathing remarks against Mason and Inyo county law enforcement officials also appeared on the Web site.

“Doing what she did falls outside of the jurisdiction of our bill,” said Frank Vega, an aide to Florez. But, he added, Florez is “absolutely” interested in trying to prevent similar things from occurring in the future.

“If there is anything that is jeopardizing the safety of CHP officers, we would certainly do anything we can to put that to an end,” Vega said.

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