Today, an article by Media and First Amendment attorney Jeff Pyle was published on “Media Nation,” a blog run by Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy. In the article, Pyle discusses the dangers of police secrecy. He illustrates this point with the story of Frederick Clay, a man who was exonerated this week after serving 38 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Part of the effort to free Clay involved seeking old police incident reports suggesting another party may have been the culprit–reports that police routinely withhold from public inspection. Pyle argues that the police should reverse this practice of excessive secrecy:
But the problem remains: Absent judicial or legislative intervention, police departments will continue to deny access to incident reports for no good reason, regardless of whether they may shed light on an unsolved case, reveal important trends in law enforcement, or possibly free an innocent person. For the sake of the criminal justice system and the public’s right to know, that practice must end — and soon.
For more of Pyle’s thoughts on this topic, read the full post here.