Texas Prosecutors, Open Records, and RateMyCop.com

Ratemycop.com is a new website where the public can post information on law enforcement. RMC is sending out open records requests to Texas law enforcement agencies. District Attorney offices are responsible for handling some Open Records requests.

How do you think prosecutors feel about Open Records/RateMyCop.com? Let’s ask Jim Tirey of Plainview, Texas. From the TDCAA message board.

There are many PIA requestors who are merely out to harass a particular government organization. They make hundreds, if not thousands of requests on a continuing basis. The government entity has to comply; there is no exception for harassing requests.

The striking aspect about organizations such as ratemycop is that it appears to lack a reasonable purpose. If anything, it probably serves to harass the men and women who are out every day trying to make our society safe.

First of all, no entity is more harassing than law enforcement. Only the State jails people who are innocent, or for unpaid traffic tickets, or for engaging in consensual victimless behavior. It shows a disturbing lack of insight that the a prosecutor would consider making copies of public documents harassment. What would that make a suppression hearing- Murder?

Mr. Tirey also states this information serves no reasonable purpose. He must not read This Week’s Corrupt Cop Stories. Maybe a service like RateMyCop could prevent disasters like Tulia in the future.

Finally, no TDCAA post would be complete without a John Bradley quote. How does JB feel about Open Records? He thinks they get in the way of his noble crime fighting mission. If any police department can not solve crime because of open records, they are too inept to be in law enforcement.

Prosecutors are in the unique position of being able to let lawmakers know the sometimes dangerous and often unintended consequences of the bills they pass. In the area of public information, some of those laws directly conflict with our duty to make sure investigations are conducted in a safe and professional manner. Interruption by disclosure of confidential information sometimes can and does prevent a worthy public goal of solving crime.

Prosecutors are not in a unique position. I see the dangers and unintended consequences of stupid laws every day. Mr. Bradley would probably be surprised to learn that his “unique” insight on open records is really one of my arguments against Prohibition.

You know Open Records are important if the Government hates it. The State exists not to make your life better, but to advance the interests of the State. Prosecutors see no benefit to Open Records because it does not benefit them directly.

It is the definition of hypocrisy that our Government demands more of our privacy and personal information yet feels harassed when citizens dare ask for copies of public documents.

If you want to know more about your Government file an Open Records request. Prosecutors have much more pull with the legislature than open records activists. If JB and his ilk get their way, open records may be a thing of the past.

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