What does this mean for those seeking access to Law Enforcement Records?
The particular wording of the amended statute governs personnel files held by a public body (aka Police Departments) and when discretion may be used and when the agency shall disclose.
The following records are "At the sole discretion of the public body" - meaning the agency MAY choose to disclose:
internal personnel investigations
examination and selection material for employment
hiring, appointment, promotion, and/or demotion
discipline, or resignation
where disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (with some examples)
What does this mean for individuals trying to obtain police personnel records? It means that although the agency may choose to hold back from fulfilling requests for records mentioned above, each agency now has the legal authority to disclose this information if they so choose. Although this is a small win for the public's right to know when it comes to the disciplinary files of officers, it has opened the door for our State to quickly identify which agencies truly believe in transparency and accountability to the public and which ones do not! We will begin down the road of much needed reform and compliance from agencies that desire to rebuild the public trust that has been lost through years of unreported or underreported misconduct by officers.
The new amendment to the statute also specifies certain records that SHALL be disclosed (meaning the agencies MUST disclose these records):
employment application of a person who becomes a public official
dates of employment, title or position
any final disciplinary action resulting in loss of pay, suspension, demotion of position, or termination
The list above is a genuine win in the battle against police misconduct. It is now codified that the public has a RIGHT to this information and that agencies must disclose these "SHALL" records if they do not want to find themselves in violation of the law!
The external sites listed below are not necessarily endorsed by Citizens Overseeing Police Oklahoma, and the views held by these organizations may not be the views of C.O.P. Oklahoma. These links are provided for educational purpose only and user discretion is encouraged.