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Secrecy bill tabled, but not dead in Delaware Senate

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    News Media Update         DELAWARE         Freedom of Information    

Secrecy bill tabled, but not dead in Delaware Senate

  • The state Senate tabled a bill that would have reversed a Dec. 30 state Supreme Court ruling that made public the names of police officers involved in particular investigations.

Feb. 6, 2004 — The Delaware state Senate tabled a bill last week that would have reversed a state Supreme Court decision granting The (Wilmington) News Journal access to law enforcement information.

The bill would have added the names and identification numbers of parole, probation and police officers to the state’s database of criminal history records, which are not public under Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Senate reconvenes March 9, but has until July 1 to reintroduce the measure. Joy Bower, assistant secretary to the Senate, said legislators wanted more information before making a decision.

“The bill has been laid on the table, but it will come back again,” said Bower, who noted that the measure appears to have majority support.

Introduced at the request of Attorney General M. Jane Brady, the bill was unanimously passed by the House on Jan. 22. Concerned about the bill’s affect on the public’s right to know, the Senate tabled the measure Jan. 28.

The News Journal has been litigating for access to computerized crime records for six years. The newspaper’s attorney said it intends to analyze 10 years’ worth of misdemeanor and felony case histories, and will identify officers who have abused their authority or participated in questionable practices, such as racial profiling.

(House Bill No. 319; Gannett Co. v. Board of Managers of the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System; Media Counsel: Richard Elliott, Richards, Layton & Finger, Wilmington) MG

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