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Thread: WA Supreme Court: police misconduct investigations are public information

  1. #1
    Regular Member
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    Aug 2007
    Granite State of Mind

    WA Supreme Court: police misconduct investigations are public information

    Quite a good ruling!

    In a landmark decision, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that investigative reports into alleged misconduct by police officers must be made public even if the accusations are not upheld.

    Eight of the nine justices found that the reports can't be withheld on privacy grounds because the public has a "legitimate interest" in knowing how the allegations were investigated.

    But five justices found that the names of officers who have been exonerated may be redacted from the records for privacy reasons.

    The ruling means the public, private attorneys and the media will have greater access to information that could shed more light on police investigations and help shape decisions regarding potential lawsuits and news stories.

    The decision stemmed from criminal and internal investigations of Bainbridge Island police Officer Steven Cain, who was cleared of allegations that he sexually assaulted and choked a woman during a traffic stop in 2007.

  2. #2
    Campaign Veteran MSG Laigaie's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Philipsburg, Montana
    AS it should be. This is an obvious good thing, but I would like to read the one dissent.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
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    Good. We should all know the names of officers involved with stuff like this

    If fear is a deterrent, if punishment is a deterrent, if social stigma is a deterrent, then this sort of information MUST be releases. If those things are not deterrents, then there's a fundamental problem with our modern system of incarceration. If such motives won't work to alter the behavior of cops, then they won't alter the behavior of criminals.

  4. #4
    Regular Member Deanimator's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Rocky River, OH, U.S.A.

    They've been trying to do this in Chicago for DECADES.

  5. #5
    Regular Member Lightning Jeff's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Duvall, WA
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    Good. We should all know the names of officers involved with stuff like this
    Ironically, though, that's the one thing the decision says is exempt from public disclosure. The court's ruling is that a public employee has a right to privacy in his identity if an allegation of misconduct is unfounded. The complaint, investigative documents, etc., must still be released, but the employee's name and other identifying information can be redacted. Of course, if you know the name of the officer and ask for the documents by that name, you'll get them, albeit with the name redacted...

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