The Lexington Police Department is the latest government agency to rule that self-serving domestic policies go beyond state transparency laws. Now even blank copies of complaint papers are too “sensitive” to be shared with the public without significant change.
A recent open post request submitted to the LPD for a blank copy of its Formal Complaints Horse was treated as a state secret request. Each field darkened, with a large watermark scattering across the page, obscuring the log data. The LPD did not initially offer any explanation for the response to its response, which is required by the Open Record Act, instead stating that “in order to file a formal complaint, you must appear in person at the following location: Lexington Police Department, 150 E. Main Street. There is no mention of an alternative way presented in his policy online. Visit to LFUCG Board Clerk.
After some pressure, the LPD confirmed that they had changed the horse to “prevent this version of the horse from being completed.” Therefore, we do not need to use any KRS exceptions for our response. ”
The real question? Under state law, public records belong to the public. The General Assembly outlined the narrow exceptions to the rule of law by public authorities. None of them appeal to empty horses.
Not that any of these are surprising. Kentucky’s law-abiding laws are regularly violated by the largest police departments, which seem to be more interested in keeping secrets, telling stories than presenting the full picture of their activities to the public. To make matters worse, our current Prosecutor General, given his responsibility to judge open record disputes brought by citizens, regularly disregards his 50-year legal authority in hastening the secrecy of law enforcement agencies with a rubber stamp.
The Louisville WDRB recently found itself blocking this road. Cameron confirmed that the Louisville Metro Police Department was denying access to the names of the murder officers who were being investigated for the alleged “Irish funeral” that took place while many were on duty. The Courier-Journal reported last year in a report by Breonna Taylor that Cameron’s office would not be an ally in enforcing open record laws. Now they and others are suing their law enforcement agencies.
This issue is not new, but with the public awareness of the social justice movement, coupled with the overly police-friendly Attorney General, law enforcement agencies prefer to dig into their heels rather than comply with our state’s open record laws. The Kentucky State Police և LMPD may have covered more of their open media coverage, but the Lexington Police Department is vying for its position as a public agency that ignores the value of an open, accountable government.
Following the recent beating of a young man with autism by an LPD police diver, Chief Waters initially kept the video, telling the city council that he did not want to release it before he could comment on the results of his investigation. Later, a large number of edited videos were released, as well as the official story revealed by the notes. Last year, the LPD rushed to release a body camera that it believed was clearing its officers of charges of illegal smoking while keeping video of arrested peaceful protesters. The Kentucky Open Record Act is clear when a police video can be saved. Favorable public relations սպ agent “spin” is not among them.
At the lowest level in history, transparency in terms of public trust in the police is crucial to restoring community trust in law enforcement. In the past, we as a society have demanded that law enforcement respect all laws that they swear to abide by, even though they “may cause inconvenience or disgrace to government officials or others.”
The Lexington Police Department is doing little to boost public confidence without a legitimate justification by changing the public record without exception – in the latter case, an empty hand. “
Scott Horn is a software architect and co-chair of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition. Amye Bensenhaver is a retired Assistant Attorney General who specializes in Kentucky Open Records and Assembly Laws. He is the co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.