FOIA Roundup: Cop cover-ups and COVID as an excuse

FOIA Roundup: Cop cover-ups and COVID as an excuse

The weekly update on freedom of information and public records

Written by
Edited by Michael Morisy

This week we have more updates on policing transparency — and the lack thereof — as well as the unusual inspiration for a very hot FOIA tip.

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The latest Chicago cop coverups

The Chicago Police Department has a long history of abuse and misconduct — so long that officials estimate it will cost about $8 million and 10 years to get all of the records that should be released as part of a lawsuit compelling the department to turn over its disciplinary records to the public. Rather than do that, the city’s aldermen have recently voted to approve a $500,000 settlement that would trade financial compensation for the continued secrecy of the records. Meanwhile, as reported in the Chicago Reporter, CPD has shut down access to key parts of the department’s arrest data API.

Progress in policing transparency

In Hawaii, legislators recently voted to disclose the names of officers that have been suspended. You can read more from Leila Fujimori and Kevin Dayton in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Today’s Mueller Report

Attorneys for the Department of Justice have until today, July 21, to justify its redactions of the Mueller report. The agency is also expected to address questions posed by the judge United States District Court for the District of Columbia as part of a lawsuit brought by Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed.

USPS: Undeterred by sleet, shine, rain, fire

After receiving an anonymous tip, Aaron Gordon of VICE filed a FOIA request for incidents of USPS trucks catching fire, a consequence of aging fleets and budget cuts to America’s favorite federal government agency.

The continued mystery of the Colorado drones

Brett Tingley at The War Zone has the latest in a strange swarm of drones seen over eastern Colorado at the end of the last year. Documents released by the Federal Aviation Administration show that despite its efforts, the FAA was unable to determine the origin of the flying formations.

A deep dive into a federal contractor

Mitre Corp. works with agencies across the federal government on new tools and tech for everything from fingerprinting to COVID-19 response. Read more about the contractor and the technology it’s making from Thomas Brewster at Forbes.

Tracking the spread of surveillance technology

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently launched its Atlas of Surveillance, a database of known surveillance technologies throughout the United States, in collaboration with MuckRock and other partners.

Help track COVID-19 policy changes

Have you seen a change in how an agency near you has change its public records handling as a result of COVID-19? Fill out our Assignment below and let us know!

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