Crime

When Police Won't Reveal Officers Suspected of Wrong-Doing

| by Jerome McCollom

Many police respect the rights of citizens of the U.S. Some don't. Those who don't are allowed quite frequently to not have their name in the newspaper, while their is an investigation into their conduct. This is because of Police Disclosure Laws, laws which block -- in most states -- the release of the name of an officer until an internal police investigation is complete.

Note that if you are arrested for a crime, your name will be made public even while the police/ government are still conducting an investigation. These laws, of course, severely hinders the ability of the public and the press to shine a light of transparency towards the conduct of individuals who the government and society gives the power to arrest and use physical force. Indeed, even after an investigation is complete, this exemption to state Freedom of Information Acts can still censor the name of an officer. Not only names of the officers, of course, but the history of their conduct.

Indeed, in much of northern Virginia, if a police officer shoots an individual and there are definite questions about whether the shooting was warranted, a dashcam video of the shooting won't be released. Again, a violation of FOIA laws. Indeed, the names of officer(s) involved and statements from witnesses, and the police report itself, might not be released.

Indeed a public information officer for Fairfax County, VA stated this, in denial of an open records request: "We are not hearing it from anybody except the media, except individual reporters." Well, open record requests are most likely in this nation to come from the media.

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The media is a watchdog of government. This lack of transparency is more like dictatorships such as Cuba or North Korea, than a free and open nation such as the U.S. In nations like that, police have no citizens to answer. Their job is very easy because citizens are more like subjects.