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Police agencies oppose making discipline records public

(AP) Some police agencies in Virginia are opposing legislation that would make disciplinary records public, saying the move could lead to police leaders sweeping misconduct under the rug.

Agency representatives spoke May 18 to a Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council subcommittee, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Representatives of the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and the Virginia Association of Counties were among those expressing concerns.

The bill sponsored by Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, would require release of law enforcement disciplinary records. The public already learns about officers charged with crimes, but people should also know about misconduct that doesn’t rise to that level, Mullin said.

The legislation would make recruiting and retaining good police officers more difficult and could encourage law enforcement to conduct disciplinary proceedings improperly, some law enforcement officials said. They were also concerned that it would lead to harassment of officers and wouldn’t be fair to treat officers differently than other government employees.

“We do need to recognize that law enforcement employees are different because of the power they have over the public,” said Virginia Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Megan Rhyne. That group and the Virginia Press Association support the bill.

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