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New language proposed for Virginia FOIA law on access to law enforcement records

September 11, 2012 | VACP

The VACP is requesting that Virginia law enforcement review the attached proposed language that would redraft Virginia FOIA law on access to criminal investigative records. This proposal comes from the staff of the Virginia FOIA Council after a series of meetings with the Criminal Investigative Records Subcommittee of the Council.

The Criminal Investigative Records Subcommittee has not yet set its next meeting date, but Virginia law enforcement must review this proposal so that the VACP can prepare its response to this legislative proposal and report back to the subcommittee.

PLEASE review this proposal and email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your comments and concerns.  We want to know whether this proposal improves the organization of the statute.  We also want to know whether you believe the proposal weakens the current law.  Your responses are CRITICAL to the VACP’s ability to represent Virginia law enforcement in this process.

BACKGROUND:
Senator John Edwards introduced Senate Bill 107 during the 2012 General Assembly session, which would have opened access to closed criminal investigative files.
(http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?121+ful+SB107)

The VACP opposed this legislation, and the bill was referred to the FOIA Council for further study.  This summer, VACP representatives met with the Criminal Records Subcommittee of the FOIA Council to study this issue.  Media representatives also participated in the study, and offered their own version of a rewrite of the FOIA statutes that address criminal investigative records.  While the VACP opposed expansion of mandated release of criminal investigative information, we all agreed that a possible reorganization of the FOIA statute could lead to better understanding of the law by both law enforcement and the public.  The VACP supported a reorganization of the statute, as long as the current FOIA policy on criminal investigative information was not changed.

We urge you to immediately review this proposal and share it with key personnel in your agency, including your legal and public information staff.  We want to be certain that this legislative proposal makes the current FOIA law easier to understand without weakening the current law on criminal investigative information.

FOIA LE Records - 2012 DRAFT Legislation (PDF)