Record Request Roadblocks
Transparency advocates raise concerns over roadblocks when fulfilling public records requests, such as the need for approval before releasing documents and the growing cost of fees.
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Tennessee State Police are passing body and dash cam costs to local police divisions
While many municipal police departments [in Tennessee] have been working to procure body-worn and dashboard cameras in accordance with new requirements set forth in last year’s state police reform law, smaller towns with resident state troopers learned [in March] that they need to purchase, store, and maintain all images from cameras they use.
“Those seeking to FOI video footage obtained by (dashboard) or (body-worn cameras) of constabulary officers will have to make that request through the individual towns,” said Trooper Josue J. Dorelus. “The individual towns have been advised of the change in procedure, which is currently in effect.”
This change has left some small towns bustling to be in compliance or understand what it means for their budgets.
Read More | Government and Technology
Join GovQA at the NAGARA 2021 Spring Online Forum this Friday, April 30th
GovQA’s Chief Evangelist, Jen Snyder will be joined by Jeri Carter Lawson, Open Records Manager with the City of Dallas, TX to discuss Quantifying Complexity – Understanding and Addressing the Challenges of Modern Public Records Requests.
Texas Legislature considering bill to make it harder to get public information about government employees
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would restrict state agencies from sharing salary data and other typically public information about government employees with the public in a bill that experts say is overly broad.
Senate Bill 16, filed by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, would require an individual’s written consent for a state agency to share their personal information. The bill has been declared a priority by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
The bill defines the protected information to include “one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural, or social identity of the individual,” in addition to location or identification numbers, but does not define what information meets that criteria.
Read More | Texas Tribune
In North Carolina, a court decides if and when to release body-camera video
In North Carolina, a judge must decide if law enforcement recordings, including those made with body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras, will be released. A 2016 law signed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory determined those recordings are not public records.
For video to be released to the public, a judge must review the video and then determine if the law enforcement agency has to release it or not.
In some cases, police and sheriff’s departments themselves will petition a judge to release the video, if they feel it’s in their best interest.
Sometimes it takes days, weeks or even months for video to be released to the public. What can appear to be a lack of transparency is just part of the process. In recent years, various bills have been filed in the General Assembly to require the release of the video within 48 hours, but so far, that legislation hasn’t progressed.
Read More | WRAL.com
Ventura County, CA sued over refusal to provide records on virus outbreaks at businesses
A freedom of information organization has sued Ventura County, CA to obtain public records on COVID-19 related deaths and virus outbreaks at workplaces.
In a 10-page lawsuit filed Thursday [Apr. 22] in Ventura County Superior Court, the First Amendment Coalition asked for a court order compelling the county government to release records requested in January and March. The coalition says the records must be disclosed under the California Public Records Act, a long-standing law governing records of public agencies.
The San Rafael-based coalition sought data for all non-residential settings with three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the request made in January, according to the lawsuit.
Read More | VC Star News
HB 3653: A breakdown of the Illinois bodycam mandate
As part of a criminal justice reform bill recently signed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, every police officer in the state will be required to wear a body camera by 2025. HB 3653 is huge in size and scope. At a whopping 764 pages, the bill includes not only the body camera mandate for police, but also ends cash bail, and creates a certification program for police.
At its core, the bill aims to hold police officers and citizens accountable during their interactions. HB 3653 is the state’s response to recent civil unrest and the public’s call for more transparency when it comes to its relationship and dealings with the police. Among the many elements of the bill, the ambitious body camera mandate will undoubtedly impact the public records landscape in Illinois for years to come.
Read More | GovQA
The Peers in Public Records Newsletter (formerly FOIA News) is a bi-monthly e-newsletter brought to you by GovQA. It is a collection of the latest trends in public record requests and government transparency initiatives, shared stories, informative case studies, and actionable knowledge that will help you calm the chaos and keep your organization compliant. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.