As The Baltimore Sun reports, internal records related to a police officer’s misconduct cannot be disclosed to the public and are exempt from the Maryland Public Information Act, the Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. In a 5-2 ruling, the court said the law exempts personnel information from disclosure and does not differentiate between “sustained” and “unsustained” complaints.
In other words, cops get a protection from background checks while the public citizens have their information available online at no cost. Just watch Fox News and you can find out how to do online background checks for free.
The court said that a determination that a sustained finding requires disclosure would affect all public employees, not only police officers. Further, mandatory disclosure findings could chill the disciplinary process, rendering those in control less willing to sustain a finding of misconduct, the ruling said.
Wouldn’t it be possible that in the case of corrupt police and politicians, that failing to disclose information to the public may allow for the corruption to run rampant like a virus? The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that makes court findings available to the public. It is crucial to hold public officials to the same standards as the public they protect and represent. They are like cockroaches in the darkness right now, scurrying under the rug the moment the light comes on. Sometimes government needs a reminder of our country’s most famous three words: “We the people.”
Transparency of government is an issue that goes back to a time before America was a country. Since the times of the Declaration of Independence and early constitutional conventions, the most renowned men have weighed in on the issue. It’s time we took a can of raid and extinguished this cockroach infestation.
Patrick Henry’s words from the June 9, 1788 Virginia Constitutional Convention:
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons