"The more that government becomes secret, the less it remains free." That's a quote from James Wiggins in 1956,when he was an editor for the Washington Post. Back then, he fought for public access to secret government records on the local, state and federal level.
There are thousands of records you can see, many you don't even know about. And in Arkansas, we have something called the Freedom of Information Act, passed in 1967. It provides you, me, and all other Arkansans access to information.
Now, in 2015, your right is being threatened.
Recently, the Arkansas State Police appealed a judge's ruling that stated the agency violated an attorney's request for information in a crash report. In the world of journalism, this is a relatively simple ask. A judge ruled the state violated the attorney's right by redacting too much information. ASP is now appealing the ruling.
The troopers here in Region 8, working the roads – this is not their fight. This is a fight between a Little Rock lawyer and the brass at Arkansas State Police...Let's talk about Region 8...
In the last few months Arkansas State Police has made it very difficult for us to get lawful records under the state's Freedom of Information law....We asked for images on a police officer body camera in Mississippi County who was involved in a shootout with the suspects...We were told that since it was an active investigation, it could not be released.
But it can...Our journalists, and attorneys, feel the information should be available, immediately. Even with then investigating, that video doesn't show the "thoughts processes, conclusions, or work product of any investigator."
It merely shows what happened...and you have a right to know and see that. So why is this information being kept from you?
The victim in this is you...Our duty is to let you know what's happening and expose the dark, corrupt nature of secrecy.
We want to arm you... with information to help you stay informed...
By being transparent and government being open about what they are doing, will make this A Better Region 8.
- Chris Conroy, KAIT VP & General Manager
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