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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

MIssissippi Gov Signs Incident Reports Bill

Without commenting this week, Barbour signed legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to provide a narrative description of an alleged crime, including the name of the person charged; time, date and location of the crime; any property or vehicle involved; and investigating officers' names. Other, more detailed information, including names of informants or witnesses and investigative techniques, are exempt from disclosure.

House Judiciary A Chairman Ed Blackmon Jr., D-Canton, tried for several years to pass similar legislation but always faced a law enforcement community reluctant to make the reports public by law.

"I think it's clarifying legislation in letting law enforcement people know what it is they are obligated to release and what they don't have to release," Blackmon said of House Bill 474.

This year, Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale, introduced the bill in a slate of sunshine reform legislation backed by the Mississippi Press Association and the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information.

Barbour spokesman Pete Smith called the law "a good compromise," a sentiment echoed by Center for Freedom of Information Director Jeanni Atkins.

"What we ended up with is something that we can live with and something that law enforcement can live with," she said.

More here.

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