Law enforcement, open records advocates differ on Marsy’s Law interpretation

When overwhelmingly passed by Wisconsin voters in April, Marsy’s Law was billed as a major step forward for crime victims’ rights, but public records advocates are raising concerns that an over-interpretation of the constitutional amendment by some law enforcement agencies could curtail access to public information. Last week, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office announced it would…

More

Michigan State Police launches new Transparency and Accountability webpage

Michigan State Police launched a new Transparency and Accountability webpage on Friday aimed to provide easy access to information about the administration and operation of the MSP. Information includes department policies, strategic plan, training requirements, recruiting and staffing numbers and use of force and traffic stop data. Additionally, Director Col. Joe Gasper said there will…

More

Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association falling flat on transparency, audit finds

Anyone interested in obtaining up-to-date information on the Massachusetts prison population or grant funds going into the state's various sheriffs' departments might be in for some frustration.

An audit conducted between 2013 and 2015 by the office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump found Massachusetts Sheriff's Association "did not provide the public with sufficient transparency about inmate populations in various counties, and the Legislature and other state agencies had to expend time and resources to obtain information."

More

South Carolina bill would change release of police dash cam videos

South Carolina's chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants a new system for making public police dash cam videos to prevent unnecessary delays.

The bill by Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens would require that all law enforcement dash cam videos are releasable under the state Freedom of Information Act but their release could be delayed if prosecutors and law enforcement seek an injunction after convincing a judge, who could conduct a private review of the video.

More

Seattle Police Held a Hackathon to Figure Out How to Redact Body Cam Video Streams

Along with police departments in New York City and Los Angeles, Seattle police are preparing to test body cams on officers in the field. In an attempt to find a balance between releasing footage and redacting private details, Seattle police held a hackathon of Friday.

Discussion around whether law enforcement agents should wear body cams has surged in the months since the shooting of Michael Brown. And as funding comes through for pilot programs, it's increasingly important to answer question about how these devices will be implemented.

More

Body cameras benefit police and open government

Wisconsin State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says that putting body cameras on police would almost always vindicate police officers accused of using excessive force, but taxpayers' money would be better spent elsewhere. I'm not sure "almost always" would be the case but the evidence suggests that body cameras would result in fewer complaints against officers and less use of excessive force.
 

More

Names of police subject to internal affairs complaints are public records, judge rules

The names of police officers who are subject to an internal affairs complaint, as well as the names of complainants, cannot be shielded from the public under the state Open Public Records Law, a state judge has ruled.

In the decision, handed down Thursday, state Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne in Bergen County found the Bergen County Sheriff's Office wrongly redacted the information in records provided to John Paff, a self-proclaimed open government activist.

More

Judge Rejects DOJ’s Secrecy Argument That Public Doesnít Know How to Evade Location Tracking

In a case involving a Freedom of Information Act request for information related to government policies and procedures for law enforcement use of cell phone tracking, a federal judge has ordered the release of records, which the Justice Department sought to keep secret by claiming they would 'alert law violators'- otherwise known as criminals- to how to evade detection.

More

Freedom of information and police don’t always mix

It isn't uncommon for conflicts to arise between the news media and law enforcement agencies over the release of information.

Police are protective of their investigations and worry about showing too much of their hand. News reporters are hard-core advocates of the public's right to know and question anything that stands in the way of gathering information freely. As standoffish as the two groups can sometimes be, there's also a reliance on each other. There are times one can benefit from the other.

More

Ferguson, Missouri, demands high fees to provide government files after Michael Brown shooting

Officials in Ferguson, Missouri, are charging nearly 10 times the cost of some of their own employees' salaries before they will agree to turn over files under public records laws about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Missouri's attorney general on Monday, after the AP first disclosed the practice, contacted Ferguson's city attorney to ask for more information regarding fees related to document requests, the attorney general's spokeswoman said.

More