"The more that government becomes secret, the less it remains free."
That is a quote by James Wiggins I often use to describe the fight for public access to government records on the local, state and federal level.
In "A Better Region 8" from July 2015, the Arkansas State Police in Little Rock was put on notice after a judge ruled the agency violated an attorney's request for information in a crash report.
Almost two years later we're still fighting that same fight; although the Freedom of Information just got a slight victory.
On Wednesday, Region 8 News reported that a Fort Smith judge ruled that A-S-P Public Information Officer Bill Sadler committed five civil violations of the Freedom of Information Act in 2016.
The judge said Sadler relied on a "blanket policy" and failed to give valid reasons for not releasing police dash-cam videos that were under investigation.
The judge said each case - quote - "should be reviewed on an individual basis to determine if a particular investigation remains open," end quote.
To the troopers here in Region 8, you are doing a great job for us and know that we appreciate your service more than you know. This is not your fight. This is a fight against bureaucracy.
We here at Region 8 News have clashed with A-S-P over FOI requests. In 2015, Mr. Sadler gave us the same blanket response to a video they didn't even have from the Mississippi County Sheriff's Office.
This appeared to be a blanket response given to make us go away and stop asking.
Only, we won't stop asking. Our duty is to let you know what's happening and expose the dark, corrupt nature of secrecy.
Hopefully, after this ruling, Mr. Sadler and the Arkansas State Police will stop relying on blanket responses.
Government being transparent and open about what they are doing makes this A Better Region 8.
- Chris Conroy, KAIT VP & General Manager
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