Q&A: Police merit board

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From The Evansville Courier & Press:

Q: An officer has been accused of being involved in a hit-and-run accident. He was ticketed, and the police department’s merit commission has suspended him without pay for 30 days.

The department is saying they can’t provide any information because the officer can appeal the decision to a court. Are they correct?

A: The merit commission’s action is considered a final action, regardless of the potential court appeal.

Records in the officer’s personnel file that go to the level of discipline and factual circumstances behind the disciplinary action must be made available for inspection and copying.

An interpretation that the court appeal could keep the records confidential would result in the public being kept in the dark possibly for years as the judicial process wound through the trial and appellate levels.

Surely that’s not what the General Assembly intended.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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