Transparency News, 6/14/21


June 14, 2021
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state & local news stories
A workshop on HB 2004
Access to inactive criminal investigative files
June 17
Register here
Tune in to the FOIA Council subcommittee on records, today at 1 p.m. The agenda (which includes the link to view and to submit written comments) is here (scroll down).

In anticipation of the meeting, VCOG has added a "What VCOG Wants" section to its FOIA fees pop-up website.

We'll also be talking about possible legislation to make completed police disciplinary investigations available.

Tune in!
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A public-records request sheds light on how the Arlington County Police Department justified a change to what the public can hear via police radio channels. The Freedom of Information Act inquiry by ARLnow uncovered documents about the department’s March change to encrypt more radio chatter. The documents cited safety and security concerns, including some related to last summer’s police reform protests and the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol. Whereas the public — including news outlets like ARLnow and local TV stations — used to be able to hear more details about a police incident in progress in Arlington, now in most circumstances only the initial dispatch and basic information from the scene can be heard. ACPD’s emails did cite unspecified incidents in which individuals used police transmissions to create disruptions. Without the added encryption, authorities say criminals could have advanced warning of police actions, citizens could arrive at a scene before emergency responders, and law enforcement tactics and movements could be compromised.

After years of incremental efforts, the Albemarle County Police Department is on track to launch a body-worn camera program this summer.  Video retention lengths will vary, he said, with the more mundane traffic stops being held onto for about two years. Footage involved in criminal cases will be retained based on evidence requirements from the Library of Congress and likely held onto forever, he said. Another complicated issue surrounding the footage is which portions will be subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Kilroy said the county will comply with FOIA law and has hired someone to handle that work. When it comes to releasing the footage, Miller said the commonwealth’s attorney office will be consulted, followed by the county attorney office. Not all footage will be able to be obtained via FOIA requests, he said, as juvenile protections and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protections are also in play.
The Daily Progress

The Purcellville Town Council on Friday voted to leave an open seat on the council vacant until a special election in November after interviewing five candidates in a closed session. The special election will be held November 2.
Loudoun Times-Mirror
stories from around the country
The city of Fort Smith, Arkansas, has been ordered to turn over a year's worth of emails sent to an address used for efficiently sending information to several city officials. Sebastian County Circuit Judge Gunner DeLay on Friday ordered emails sent to the city's "Board of Director Email Group" must be released under Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act. The ruling came in response to a May 27 information request sent to the city by attorney Joey McCutchen.  McCutchen's lawsuit accused the city of violating FOIA law by not producing the emails, which were sent to the address that functions as a funnel to its 10 recipients. McCutchen, in a news release before Friday's court hearing, said he had concerns directors were having "secret discussion" about the city's federal consent decree to fix its sewer system and other public business. The city cannot fulfill McCutchen's request because of the address' function as a conduit. But Russell Gibson, the city's information technology director, acknowledged the request could be fulfilled through a word search.
Arkansas Democrat Gazette

The hack that took down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. and led to shortages across the East Coast was the result of a single compromised password, according to a cybersecurity consultant who responded to the attack. Hackers gained entry into the networks of Colonial Pipeline Co. on April 29 through a virtual private network account, which allowed employees to remotely access the company’s computer network, said Charles Carmakal, senior vice president at cybersecurity company Mandiant, part of FireEye Inc., in an interview. The account was no longer in use at the time of the attack but could still be used to access Colonial’s network, he said. The account’s password has since been discovered inside a batch of leaked passwords on the dark web.