On October 8th, OpenTheGovernment.org 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.
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, OpenTheGovernment.org