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Monday, June 25, 2007

Prosecutors Keep List of Problem Officers

"For more than a year, the King County Prosecutor's Office on its own has tracked police officers and sheriff's deputies known to have credibility problems and has painstakingly compiled a list. ... A review of disciplinary records and court files involving these officers reveals a host of issues that could threaten the prosecution of alleged criminals. ... In many instances, prosecutors find out about problems with an officer at the last minute from a defense lawyer who has obtained the information from a public-records request."

The "review of disciplinary records" mentioned in the story would be via the Public Records Act. The review of "court files" would be via open-government court rules which are similar to the Public Records Act. Then the story magnificently illustrates the importance of the Public Records Act by noting that problem officers are discovered by defense lawyers who find out about them "from a public-records request." Wow. You couldn't come up with a better example of how the Public Records Act allows us to remedy wrongs and keep government accountable. Quite a few in government want to eliminate or severely weaken the effectiveness of the Public Records Act. Ever wonder why?