Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Examining Police Use of Force Can Be Expensive

As the Washington Post reports, the FBI is going to significantly improve its ability to track information on police shootings, calling the current system a "travesty."  But as my computer-assisted reporting class discovered, if a citizen wants to get information

about a police department's use of force, it can be cost prohibitive depending upon the state.  

Here's the response student Rachel Godin got from the city of Lansing, Michigan.   To get copies of the use-of-force reports it's only $21,350.   That's right, twenty-one thousand three hundred fifty dollars, and the city wants an initial payment of more than ten grand.    

The threat to democracy does not come from terrorists, it comes from government secrecy.

Michigan reporters should be holding their elected officials accountable and asking them why Michigan has a law that allows for such charges.  Donald Trump and the 1% can afford to go after public records in Michigan, the average citizen can't.   When access to public records is thwarted, accountability in government doesn't have much of a chance.    


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