A split screen might be the best way to think about government transparency in Colorado in 2019. On one side is the ground-breaking new state law that opens records on completed police internal affairs investigations. On the other is the trend among law enforcement agencies in our state to encrypt 100 percent of their scanner transmissions.
The killing, Rangely’s first officer-involved homicide in nearly 40 years, was a story town officials didn’t want told. It wasn’t mentioned at the town council meeting the next day. The town manager and the mayor made no public statements about the shooting, and they ignored the Herald Times’ questions in the aftermath about the job status of Kinney and the chief.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition joined other organizations in urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to affirm the public’s First Amendment right to record police.
Two words come to mind when looking back at 2018’s government transparency highlights and lowlights in Colorado. Judicial secrecy.
HIPAA is the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, enacted by Congress in 1996. The law’s privacy rules, designed to protect the confidential health information of patients, often are misunderstood and misapplied, and that certainly seems to be the case with the July 5 detention of Greene near the state Capitol, according to legal experts.
Two journalist associations and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition sent a second letter to Denver’s new police chief, expressing disappointment in his “dismissive, non-substantive” response to an earlier letter regarding the July 5 detention of Colorado Independent Editor Susan Greene while she took pictures of officers.
“Deeply concerned, dismayed and disappointed” by the detention of Colorado Independent Editor Susan Greene last week while she photographed police officers, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and two journalist associations are urging the Denver Department of Public Safety to institute intensive First Amendment training for its employees.
Legislative leaders have approved Statehouse floor credentials for The Colorado Independent based on the recommendation of the Capitol press corps. The news nonprofit was denied similar credentials in 2014 because of its past affiliation with left-leaning political advocacy groups.
For now, journalists working for The Colorado Independent still won’t be given access to the floor of the Colorado House or Senate when the General Assembly is in session. But legislative leaders encouraged the online newspaper to ask again after the credentialing criteria have been “updated.”
The staff of The Colorado Independent features some of the state’s most accomplished journalists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe and columnist Mike Littwin. Why can’t the online newspaper get press credentials from the Colorado General Assembly and the Colorado Capitol Press Association?