Police Records and Pandemic Pauses

States evaluate police misconduct records in regards to what should be available to the public and when under public records laws. Plus, states review current public record laws’ language to better address future pandemics.

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Maryland lawmakers weigh pulling back curtain on police disciplinary records

Lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly are considering opening up internal affairs complaints and disciplinary records of police officers in the state to public scrutiny.

Most complaints against officers and records from police department disciplinary decisions would become accessible using a Maryland Public Information Act request under the proposed “Anton’s Law.” It’s named for Anton Black, a young man who died in custody on the Eastern Shore in 2018.

Read More | The Baltimore Sun

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Virginia Senate committee advances bill requiring police to release closed criminal investigations

Virginia is one step closer to requiring public officials to release records from closed criminal investigations something 32 states and the federal government already do.

On Wednesday, [Feb. 17] the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology voted 8-2 to advance a bill that would broaden public records laws and stop law enforcement and prosecutors from shielding investigative files from the public. The bill passed 55-44 in the House of Delegates on Feb. 4.

Read MoreThe Virginia-Plot

Missouri bill would delay some public record access

A bill passed by the Missouri House on Thursday [Feb. 18] would put a pause on open-records requests when public agencies are closed, an attempt to ease pressure on governments during emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic.

But the measure, approved 149-1, also would cover state lawmakers who close their offices for most of the year while the Legislature is not in session. That could mean Sunshine Law requests are ignored for months.

Read More | The North Plate Telegraph


New York Police Department loses appeal to keep disciplinary records under lock & key

The New York City Police Department “cannot bargain away” its disclosure obligations, the Second Circuit ruled Tuesday [Feb. 16] as it rejected a bid by police and firefighter unions to block the publishing of thousands of officer misconduct records.

Rejecting the appeal in an unsigned summary order, the three-judge panel denied claims that greater transparency would risk officers’ safety.

Read More | Courthouse News Service

Peer Resource

PiPR Podcast: Responding to a Pandemic

GovQA’s Chief Evangelist, Jen Snyder is joined by Adam Perez, Records Manager for the Hayward, CA Police Department, as they look back on the many challenges the Pandemic brought to Hayward, as well as other law enforcement organizations across the country.

They also discuss how priorities needed to shift immediately and what challenges still lie ahead.

Listen to Episode 2 of the PiPRPodcast

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 peers@govqa.com.

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