Score a win for open government!
The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled today that use of force records from law enforcement agencies are not exempt under the rules of the state Freedom of Information Act, according to Arkansas News.
The decision stemmed from the Oct. 29, 2011, arrest of Chris Erwin outside a Little Rock restaurant, in which Lt. David Hudson struck the suspect several times. During the course of investigation, Erwin’s attorney, Keith Hall FOI’d the reports, but was turned down by the Little Rock Police Department which argued that the records constituted employee evaluations and therefore were not open unless discussed as part of disciplinary or firing actions.
A circuit court later ordered the LRPD to release the reports — a decision that was eventually appealed to the supreme court.
According to the ruling, specific incidents do not constitute employee reviews because they don’t contain insight into an employee’s performance.
“Instead, each report merely contains the police officer’s narrative account detailing his actions during a specific incident,” Justice Robert Brown wrote in the opinion.