Your Right-to-Know is Shifting
Police misconduct records and PII find their way back into the hot-seat as states look to better define which records should be accessible to the public under open record laws.
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Police in Virginia must release records of investigations that are no longer ongoing
Virginians will have a right to see many old police investigative files for the first time after Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill [Mar. 31] changing the state’s public records law.
The new law will force police and sheriffs to release records of investigations that are no longer ongoing. It will also give families even greater access to records about relatives who’ve been killed.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, could begin to end state law enforcement agencies’ longstanding practice of shielding nearly all their files from the public — whether they are incident reports from the past week or case files that haven’t been looked at in decades.
Though the Virginia Freedom of Information Act currently allows police, prosecutors and sheriff’s offices statewide to release such files, the departments almost always say no to all such requests as a matter of policy.
Read More | The Virginia Pilot
Maryland Senate moves toward repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights
Following two late nights of emotional debate, Maryland’s state senators on Thursday [Apr. 1] approved a sweeping police reform bill that revamps the disciplinary process for problem police officers.
The bill removes the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, a 1970s law that affords protections for police officers accused of wrongdoing or crimes on the job. In its place is a multistep system that includes an investigation, a charging board that would recommend discipline, and a trial board for officers who want to challenge their discipline. Civilians would have roles in parts of the process.
Read More | The Baltimore Sun
Missouri lawmakers push to shield constituent info from disclosure under Sunshine Law
House Bill 362, sponsored by Rep. Bruce DeGroot, would allow residents’ contact information to be closed under Missouri’s Sunshine Law if it was submitted to a government body solely to receive communication such as newsletters, notifications, advisories, alerts and periodic reports.
While the bill has faced little opposition, one provision added by Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, has raised concerns.
Under the Sunshine Law, government bodies must acknowledge receipt of a records request within three business days. Lovasco added an amendment to DeGroot’s bill that would allow officials to delay that notice if they had posted that they would be closed for an extended period at least 72 hours before receiving the request.
Read More | Joplin Globe
Kentucky Open records bills pass; sent to governor
Two open records bills that would make it difficult to obtain certain records were recently passed by the Kentucky General Assembly.
The first bill, Senate Bill 48, would redact personal identifiable information in records that would “reveal the address or location of a public officer if that officer has notified the public agency responsible for those records that she or she does not want the information to be made public.”
The second, House Bill 312, limits the ability of people who do live, work or conduct business within the state of Kentucky to obtain records through the state’s open records law.
Read More | The Ledger Independent
Ventura County, CA Sheriff sued over alleged violations of public records laws
The First Amendment Coalition on Tuesday [Mar. 31] sued the Ventura County Sheriff over alleged violations of the California Public Records Act.
The Northern California nonprofit organization filed the complaint in Ventura County Superior Court after it received multiple denials and delays from the sheriff’s office for public records related to police misconduct and serious use of force.
Under the public records act, the sheriff’s office was required to justify why certain records were being withheld and to provide a schedule detailing when responsive records can be made available. That did not happen in this case, according to the complaint.
Read More | Ventra County Star
Webinar: Responding to Video/Audio FOIL Requests in the Northeast
Join GovQA, Microsoft, and Veritone on Thursday, April 15th at 11:00 am EST to see how New York and other Northeastern agencies could be using GovQA and Veritone to automate their FOIL/Public Record management process and redact requested audio/video files, all while staying compliant under Microsoft’s secure cloud.
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.