Challenges to law enforcement transparency and accountability efforts highlighted at 2016 FOI Summit Session

On October 8th, organized and moderated a session on law enforcement transparency and accountability at the 2016 National Freedom of Information Coalition FOI Summit. The session continues OTG’s work to identify avenues to support the work of the civil rights and social justice community on law enforcement reform. Our focus is also to bring these critical issues more fully to the attention of the open government community and to identify where our work and knowledge can assist in improving the access to information needed for law enforcement accountability.   

During the session, speakers addressed challenges facing advocates seeking information on a range of law enforcement activities: police body-worn cameras; use-of-force incidents; police in schools; and law enforcement use of surveillance technologies. The treatment of access-to-information in “consent decrees” (between the DOJ and cities where the government has had to intervene), brought out that many of these decrees are impermeable by state and federal open records laws and, thus, not available for grassroots accountability efforts. The speakers and audience members discussed how freedom of information advocates and journalists are exercising FOIA laws to gain access to information integral to grassroots advocacy campaigns and how the open government and FOIA community can support efforts to turn information into tools for policy reform.

See the full agenda for the 2016 summit here. The power point presentations for the law enforcement transparency session can be viewed here.


Kevin Goldberg is a member of the law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C. and Immediate Past President of the D.C. Open Government Coalition.

Jumana Musa is a human rights attorney and racial justice activist, and currently the Senior Privacy and National Security Counsel for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 

Carlton T. Mayers II serves as the Policing Reform Policy Counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where he works to advance LDF’s efforts to effect responsible and unbiased policing by working with local communities and stakeholders.

Susan Ferris is a prize-winning reporter with The Center for Public Integrity, who has been investigating treatment of children by the U.S. justice and immigration system, law enforcement and the school-discipline process.

Scott Roberts is a Senior Campaign Director of Criminal Justice with the organization Color of Change (Mr. Roberts was unable to participate in the session due to a last minute emergency).

Michael Morisy is the co-founder of MuckRock – a non-profit, collaborative news site that brings together journalists, researchers, activists, and regular citizens to request, analyze, and share government documents.

Moderator: Jesse Franzblau, Policy Associate,

Additional Resources:  

2016 Summit Concludes – Challenges to public records access in a digital age among top issues (NFOIC) submits comments to city of Ferguson on DOJ agreement (OTG)  

Recommendations for the Justice Department’s 2016 Open Government Plan: Enhance data collection and reporting standards for law enforcement (OTG)

OTG Forum Identifies Opportunities for Engagement on Transparent Policing and Accountable Law Enforcement Advocacy (OTG)

Death toll from violent cops is a guessing game (USA Today opinion column by OTG Executive Director Patrice McDermott)

Openness advocates and criminal justice groups join call for comprehensive data on police shootings (OTG)

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