This Week in the Hot-Seat: Police Records
States look to redefine and clarify which types of records should be accessible to the public under current public record laws.
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Maryland's 9 police reform bills in the Senate get backlash
Maryland state senators on Friday, [Feb. 26] advanced a set of nine police reform bills, but some call the effort baby steps for transformative change.
Senate leaders concede the slate of reforms is not perfect; but they believe it is a step in the right direction.
Under one of the bills, officers who use excessive force that results in death or serious injury could face up to 10 years in prison. This also goes for officers who do not intervene or report the behavior. The legislation creates a statewide use-of-force standard and enhances whistleblower protections for officers.
Another reform measure changes the Maryland Public Information Act to allow access to police discipline records. It was prompted by the in-police-custody death of 19-year-old Anton Black on the Eastern Shore.
Read More | WBAL TV 11
Virginia bill opening up criminal investigative files sent to governor
Virginia lawmakers gave final passage to a major open records bill that would allow some access to criminal investigative files to the public.
The bill from Del. Chris Hurst, D-Montgomery, would end state law enforcement agencies’ practice of excluding nearly all of their files from the public inspection.
Open record and criminal justice advocates said law enforcement agencies hiding records hinders families from getting access to records, limits the efforts of groups that try to overturn wrongful convictions, and prevents the public from holding police accountable.
The bill goes to Gov. Ralph Northam for his signature, veto or suggested changes.
Read More | The Roanoke Times
Kentucky House votes to shield lawmakers from inquiries
According to the Lexington Herald Leader, the Kentucky House voted Friday [Feb. 26] to weaken the state’s Open Records Act in several ways, such as letting state lawmakers shield themselves from inquiries and blocking information requests from outside Kentucky.
The House voted 71-to-27 for House Bill 312, which was originally introduced as a minor technical correction in the law about financial institutions.
But at a House State Government Committee hearing on Thursday, [Feb. 25] the sponsor introduced a last-minute substitute version of the bill that would rewrite portions of the open records law that citizens use to request information from public agencies.
Read More | Lexington Herald Leader
Press Herald sues Maine State Police over concealed discipline records
The Portland Press Herald filed a lawsuit Tuesday [Feb. 23] against the Maine State Police seeking to pry loose disciplinary records that could shed light on how the agency handles complaints of misconduct and rule-breaking among its ranks.
The suit, filed in Cumberland County Superior Court, centers on requests for information filed under the state’s Freedom of Access Act seeking final decisions of discipline for all personnel employed by the Department of Public Safety finalized between 2015 and 2019.
Read More | Yahoo News
WEBINAR: Quantifying Complexity in Public Records
On Feb. 16, 2021, Jen Snyder, GovQA Chief Evangelist, moderated a discussion around the first-of-its-kind Peers in Public Records Index (PiPRIndex), a historical marker that quantifies predictable growth (or retraction) in complexity for organizations managing Public Records Requests.
Our panel discussed each of the 7 figures that compose the PiPRIndex, and how these figures represent a broader trend felt by most state and local governments.
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 email@example.com.