Law Enforcement Agencies Assert Many Records Are Private – Even Budgets

law firm representing law enforcement agencies across the state has issued advice to at least several of the agencies that they have the right to withhold many records from public view, including agency budgets, payroll, contracts and inventory.

An attorney for Oklahoma City-based Collins, Zorn & Wagner cited as a basis for refusing to release such records, as well as case documents, a portion of the state Open Records Act that lists law enforcement records subject to public disclosure. Attorney Ammon Brisolara said if a document is not specifically listed in the statute, the law enforcement agency doesn’t have to make it public.

The list of records under the law enforcement section of the Open Records Act is increasingly being cited by agencies to deny requests for public records, said Joey Senat, a journalism professor at Oklahoma State University and a board member of Freedom of Information Oklahoma, which advocates for transparency in government.

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