Frank LoMonte Authors Essay on Accessibility of Police Disciplinary Records
Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is the author of the essay “Release Police Disciplinary Records in a Timely Manner” published in the Rochester, New York newspaper Democrat & Chronicle on Dec. 30.
LoMonte focuses on New York police departments that are failing to abide by their legal obligation to provide the public with access to files about officer misconduct.
According to LoMonte, “The principle is simple: The public pays for government agencies to create documents and data, and (with sensible privacy exceptions) that information should be free to examine, copy and publish. When public-record laws work the way they’re supposed to, they really work. Behind most great investigative reporting is a freedom-of-information request that led journalists to their breakthrough.”
“All essential records about the performance of public-safety functions – including complaints against police – should be publicly accessible. And ‘accessible’ doesn’t mean ‘after waiting a year and paying thousands of dollars,’” said LoMonte. “Technology has put boundless libraries of knowledge at our fingertips. Yes, it will require substantial up-front investment to make government records digitized and searchable. But ultimately, identifying government failings will save countless dollars and lives.”