Wisconsin Law Journal | Open-Record Case a Mixed Blessing for Transparency

Will’s very own deputy counsel and litigation manager, Thomas Kamenick, wrote an article for the Wisconsin Law Journal on Wisconsin law enforcement agencies tendencies to black out identifying information from documents when responding to record requests. Many supporters of Wisconsin’s open records laws have grown frustrated with Sherrifs’ and police departments removal of basic information from incident reports, accident reports, and citations because often times the perpetrators’ names are removed as well.

Thomas Kamenick shares, “[T]he Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, filed a lawsuit against the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department when it blacked out from incident reports and a citation the name of a woman who vandalized a GOP booth at the Jefferson County Fair. That lawsuit ended happily when the Sheriff agreed to turn over the complete records, but it demonstrates that incident reports can very frequently (if not always) be related to public safety.

By definition, an incident report and citation are ways of documenting law-breaking behavior, which the public has a right to learn about. The police act in order to protect public safety. The release of such records is “specifically authorized” by the Open Records Law, and those records are related to public safety, so they should be exempted”.

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