Transparency News, 5/13/21


 May 13, 2021
There was no newsletter yesterday, May 12.


state & local news stories
Here is the agenda for the FOIA Council's subcommittee on records meeting on May 18. It has links to register for public comment and for watching. There's also an email address in the letterhead that you can submit written comments to. VCOG supports the concepts in both bills being studied and is looking forward to contributing to the discussion on the details.

The former superintendent of the Rockbridge County Regional Jail was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison Tuesday for multiple civil rights violations and public corruption, according to the United States Department of Justice. In all, John Marshall Higgins, 62, was given 51 months behind bars. He is also a former Rockbridge County supervisor. Additional evidence showed Higgins agreed to accept offers from the family and friends of an inmate at the Rockbridge County Regional Jail in exchange for providing preferential treatment to the inmate. The family members and friends provided at least $3,000 in payments and other items to a scholarship fund operated by Higgins and his family.
News Leader

On day four in his new position as Chief of Police Fairfax County, the ghosts of Kevin Davis' law enforcement past clung heavily in the County's public arena of the May 6 virtual Community Input Session hosted by Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay (D-At-large), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Lee). The problem was the community's concerns were no longer confined to the Board's hiring process and appointment of Davis as chief of police. While the non-disclosure of decades-old civil lawsuits with judgments entered against Davis from incidents as a young sworn law enforcement officer, including use-of-force and ruling of violation of constitutional rights was old news community concerns escalated with new findings and reactions the week of May 3. County residents questioned a litany of recent incidents, 2016-2018, that came to light, this time with Davis employed not as a young cop in 1993 and 1999 but in high-ranking law enforcement leadership roles. These and other matters shook the trust and unhinged for many any possible faith in Davis's ability and transparency as Police Chief of Fairfax County. Davis shared at the forum three words that held meaning for him-transformation, accountability, and transparency. "I'm all about accountability, both for police officers [and] myself; and people who commit crimes. There has to be a pathway back to success," he said. "My track record of nearly three decades is a journey,"
Fairfax Connection
stories from around the country
Attorneys for Andrew Brown’s family declared at a news conference Tuesday that body-cam videos show deputies were not justified in shooting him outside his Elizabeth City home. The family had just viewed about 19 minutes of body-cam video from the April 21 incident when three Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies opened fire on Brown as he tried to drive away. A judge ordered last week that the family could view additional portions of the video that included Brown and the deputies’ attempts to apprehend him. The sheriff’s office has nearly two hours of footage from the incident, but the parts that did not include Brown were redacted. Authorities showed Brown’s family 20 seconds of one video on April 26, but they and their attorneys pushed to see more. The judge also said the videos could be released to the public in the coming weeks depending on the results of an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation into the shooting. The FBI is also investigating.
The Virginian-Pilot

Chatham (Illinois) police have denied a Freedom of Information Request from WAND News regarding a March officer-involved shooting, saying releasing information would deprive the suspect of a fair trial

Police body camera footage is under new scrutiny following a judge’s ruling in North Carolina limiting the portions of video that can be seen by the family members of Andrew Brown Jr., who was fatally shot by an officer last month. With no federal requirements on releasing police videos, states often differ in their approach to making the footage publicly available, and not all states have regulations in place. Some states, like California and New York, require the release of police videos in most cases, while others only allow the release of recordings following a court order. Most states that allow recordings to be released have privacy exceptions along with restrictions if the footage would interfere with an ongoing investigation. Here are the states that have some of the most restrictive laws governing disclosure of police body camera recordings.
The Hill