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A bill to reopen California police records and restore civilian oversight cleared a key hurdle in the state Senate. The bill would reverse a state Supreme Court decision that put police disciplinary records off-limits for the public and threatens 30 years of police reform in California.

Hundreds of ACLU/SC members sent letters and made calls to state legislators urging support of the measure.

In L.A., the court's decision meant the public was denied access to a police hearing that cleared the officer who shot unarmed 13-year-old Devin Brown in 2005. "American justice is done in the open, but the conduct of LAPD officers is now judged in secrecy," the ACLU/SC said at the time.

The bill passed the Senate committee 3-2, and a similar bill is pending in the Assembly. The bills are backed by California newspapers and First Amendment and civil-rights groups.