Reporters and other document requesters are used to being disrespected or even completely ignored when exercising their rights under state public records law. Law enforcement officials in particular often seem to be among the most likely to brush aside records requests and journalists can often feel powerless to stop them.
That no longer appears to be the case in Helena, Ark.
After the Helena-West Helena Police Department refused to fully comply with a local reporter’s state Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to 911 calls in early January, a local district court judge issued an arrest warrant for Interim Police Chief Col. Fred Fielder, according to an Associated Press report.
The warrant was delivered personally by Helena Mayor James Valley, who also made the arrest, according to the report. Fielder was charged with an unclassified misdemeanor, the report said, and then released on his own recognizance.