FC: New Jersey proposes to ban public from state police records

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Feb 21 2002 - 08:03:43 PST

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    See related Politech article on giving police more rights than other people:
    "Washington state senate moves to ban publishing info on police"
    Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 08:24:10 -0500
    To: declanat_private
    From: "J.D. Abolins" <jda-irat_private>
    Subject: NJ proposes to shield NJ State Police records
    Yesterday's (Wed) Newark, NJ Star Ledger carried a front page article about 
    the proposal to designate as confidential certain information about NJ 
    State Police troopers. Thus, the information will be shielded from public 
    information requests just as NJ has enacted a significant change to the 
    public info access laws.
    The proponents of this shielding claim it is to protect the privacy of the 
    state troopers and their families. (Echoes of Kirkland, WA.) The shielding 
    supporters also claim it is needed to give the state police an opportunity 
    to work on itself to deal with issues such as the racial profiling.
    The proposal would also shield police cruiser videotapes from discovery in 
    lawsuits brought by the public. It would not, however, shield the tapes and 
    other information needed by defrense in criminal cases.
    The full article can be found for next few days at:
    J.D. Abolins
    Meyda Online -- Infosec & Privacy Studies
    ---------- Web page snippet ----------
    State tries to shield records of troopers
        Tapes of traffic stops included in proposal
        Wednesday, February 20, 2002
        Star-Ledger Staff
        Virtually all records on individual State Police officers, including the
        videotapes they make on patrol, would be confidential under a regulation
        proposed yesterday by the Attorney General's Office.
        The department said the new rule is needed to protect the privacy of
        state troopers and their families while allowing the State Police to
        take a hard look at itself as it works to eradicate racial profiling.
        Critics, including representatives of the state's newspaper publishers
        and New Jersey Citizen Action, said the proposal goes too far and would
        shield information the public deserves to know.
        The proposed regulation would primarily shield information the State
        Police are required to compile under a December 1999 consent decree with
        the U.S. Department of Justice to end racial profiling. That includes
        the videotapes made of all highway stops.
        "If we had a blanket rule that they were public, we would lose the
        essential support of troopers that we need," Farmer said.
        The rule also would block release of highway stop videotapes to people
        seeking to sue the State Police over discrimination or other alleged
        wrongdoing. They would need a judge's order to break through the
        confidentiality rule. The rule could not, however, block criminal
        defendants from getting information needed for their defense.
        The move to close State Police records comes as the state is preparing
        to greatly expand public access to government records in general under a
        new law that goes into effect in July. That law allows records to be
        closed by regulation.
    <rest of article snipped>
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