December 21, 2014

OPINION: New law will draw back the curtains on arrest warrants

There’s good news at the close of Kansas 2014 Legislative session. Citizens in the very near future will have access to information about how law enforcement makes decisions to make arrests.
It couldn’t come soon enough. Kansas was one of, if not the only, state with closed arrest affidavits, but thanks to the tireless efforts of some legislators, especially Rep. John Rubin of Shawnee, arrest warrants should be open records beginning July 1.
As the Kansas Press Association said in an email thanking supporters of HB 2555, “We need to continue to work together to open doors, pull back the curtains and make sure all facets of government are conducted with the public’s right to know.”
Under the new law, probable cause affidavits used to justify arrest warrants will be open after a brief period in which prosecutors can request that a judge approve certain redactions. The redactions are intended to prohibit the release of information like Social Security numbers and undercover officers or informants.
The law allows up to five days for redactions.
That warm glow isn’t just springtime. It’s sunshine pouring onto the records that have been closed for far too long.
Thank you, legislators, for drawing back the curtains.

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