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Governor Signs Public Security Bill

Governor Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill designed to give local governments more flexibility in dealing with public safety and security threats.

AB 246, by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), amends the Ralph M. Brown Act to add the Governor to a list of approved officials who may meet with local governments under strict, limited circumstances in closed sessions.

Generally, under the Brown Act, government meetings must be open to and accessible by the public; however, the Brown Act has long included an exemption that allows local legislative bodies to meet with a list of security-related officials in private when they are discussing security matters.

Those security matters include the security of public buildings, essential public services such as drinking water and electric service, or threats to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities.

“When security issues arise, local officials may need to meet in private to prevent panic and widespread hysteria,” Bradford said. “In a rapidly evolving situation, sensitive information can get leaked and compromise safety even further.”

The Brown Act currently allows local legislative bodies to meet with the Attorney General, district attorney, agency counsel, sheriff, or chief of police, or their respective deputies, or a security consultant or a security operations manager under these circumstances.

Effective January 1st, 2014, the Governor will be added to that list.

AB 246 passed both houses of the Legislature on bi-partisan votes.

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