Use of force policy (Missouri State Highway Patrol)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Missouri Highway Patrol of Missouri.
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Completed

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Missouri Sunshine Law and the Missouri Public Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

A copy of the Missouri Highway Patrol's use of force policy and training materials .

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 3 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave

From: Missouri Highway Patrol

The request has been rejected, with the agency stating that the information or document(s) requested are exempt from disclosure.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

Per Lt. McCollum's June 16, 2015 response, the Missouri State Highway Patrol contends that its Use of Force policy is a "closed record." I urge you to reconsider this position, as I believe it misconstrues both the spirit and letter of Missouri's laws on public records. This position is also in stark contrast to that taken by law enforcement agencies across the country, many of which have put their entire manuals online, including their use of force policies.

The Missouri public records statute permits law enforcement agencies to withhold a document "which contains information that is reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any victim, witness, undercover officer, or other person; or jeopardize a criminal investigation, including records which would disclose the identity of a source wishing to remain confidential or a suspect not in custody; or which would disclose techniques, procedures or guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, that portion of the record shall be closed and shall be redacted from any record made available pursuant to this chapter."

The document at hand does not fall into any of the above categories. While a Use of Force policy does outline law enforcement procedures, a policy such as this does not qualify as a procedure for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions. The requested policy outlines basic guidelines for when officers may use force. This policy does not encompass confidential or secret techniques for law enforcement investigations, but rather how police officers on patrol are trained to determine whether force is warranted in a given circumstance.

Police departments and law enforcement agencies around the country have recognized the public interest in making Use of Force policies public. Such police departments include the NYPD and Boston Police Department, as well as the Massachusetts State Police. Within Missouri, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has made its entire manual — including its Use of Force policy — available upon request.

Finally, a White House task force on 21st century policing (see http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/policingtaskforce), recommended unequivocally that all use of force policies be made public. Among its central findings: "Law enforcement agencies should have comprehensive policies on the use of force that include training, investigations, prosecutions, data collection, and information sharing. These policies must be clear, concise, and openly available for public inspection."

In light of the above, I respectfully ask that the Missouri State Highway Patrol release its Use of Force policy to the public.

I look forward to your reply.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: McCollum, Keverne

Mr. Musgrave,
Your email request was forwarded to me. We will review our Use of Force policy. If it is deemed an open record, it will be forwarded to you. If parts of the policy are deemed a “closed record” than those parts will be redacted and you will receive a redacted copy of the policy. If the entire policy is considered a “closed record” than you will be notified that the Patrol’s response is the same as you received on June 16, that the policy is a closed record.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Thank you for your reconsideration.

Again, agencies nationwide from the FBI to the NYPD to state law enforcement agencies such as the Massachusetts State Police have released Use of Force policies, both in full and in part. As such, I encourage MSHP to construe transparency provisions in Missouri's statutes broadly, and to release as much as possible of your agency's policy on use of force.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on June 11, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: McCollum, Keverne

Mr. Musgrave,
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is still reviewing the General Order. It is anticipated it will take an additional 10 business days to complete. Once a determination has been made, you will be contacted.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

Thank you for the update, and for reconsidering the release of this important document. I look forward to your reply.

Enjoy your weekend,
Shawn Musgrave

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on June 11, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Missouri Highway Patrol

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

From: Missouri Highway Patrol

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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