PA: Public wants police complaint records, videos

With the public demanding greater access to police documents and videos, two cases in the Lehigh Valley area could help shape legal precedent about what records must be released.

A Northampton County judge will decide whether the public is entitled to see complaints filed by citizens against a police officer. That case stems from a Bethlehem resident's request for complaint and disciplinary records about a Bethlehem officer.

More

PA: Court weighs when public can view state police videos

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Police dash camera videos that are routinely released in other states could become more available for public view in Pennsylvania under a case argued Wednesday before the state Supreme Court.

A state police lawyer voiced strong opposition, saying existing law largely prevents disclosure and warning a change in policy could be costly for police agencies, compromise investigations and expose details about private citizens against their wishes.

More

Pennsylvania announces open data portal

Pennsylvania is renewing its commitment to transparency.

On April 18, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who assumed office in January, signed an executive order to create an open data portal. The new portal is mandated to contain downloadable, machine-readable data, a feature not offered by the state’s existing transparency site called PennWATCH. The state Office of Administration is also mandated to help agencies find their most valuable data sets.

More

Editorial: Pennsylvania is moving backwards on government transparency

While news organizations, good government groups and – hopefully – public-minded citizens were commemorating right-to-know and open-meetings laws during Sunshine Week last month, clouds of obstruction were forming over the Pennsylvania State Capitol in the form of House Bill 1310.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Philadelphia, would prohibit release of so-called "identifying information" in 911 calls. That would include the name, telephone number, address and location associated with any call.

More

Pennsylvania open government expert discusses transparency, confidentiality

Back when Terry Mutchler was spending late nights at The Daily Collegian or rushing across campus to make an 8 a.m. class, she never imagined she would someday return to speak at Penn State.

On Wednesday, the 1993 graduate, an expert in open government and freedom of information matters, returned to do just that.

Mutchler leads the transparency practice at Philadelphia’s Pepper Hamilton law firm. The firm is at the center of document issues in multiple lawsuits related to the Jerry Sandusky case.

More

Pennsylvania bill makes it illegal to ID officers who shoot civilians

A Pennsylvania House committee gave an overwhelming thumbs-up to a bill Tuesday that would make it illegal for public officials to release the names of cops who shoot civilians until an “official investigation” is completed.

The panel passed the legislation unanimously.

Republican State. Rep. Martina White, a freshman lawmaker from Philadelphia, introduced the bill.

More

Bill to broaden state open records law passes PA Senate

Nestled firmly in a bill passed last week by the Pennsylvania Senate is a long list of reporting requirements that, if passed by the House and signed by the governor, would force the University of Pittsburgh and the three other state-related universities to disclose data ranging from minutes of meetings to ratios of course credits awarded to various types of students.

More