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High court says State Police can’t keep all internal investigation info secret


Gazette first sued State Police for internal records in 2010

By Travis Crum

Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va.– West Virginia State Police cannot keep all information about their completed internal investigations a secret, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, and ordered a Kanawha County circuit judge to determine what secret police documents should be opened.

In 2010, the Charleston Gazette sued the State Police after requests for information about officer misconduct from the State Police and the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety were repeatedly denied. State Police had sought to keep hidden information from its Professional Standards section, which handles internal investigations.

In May 2012, Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey sided with the State Police in keeping that information hidden. The Gazette appealed Bailey’s order to the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments in October. State Supreme Court justices unanimously returned Bailey’s order on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court order returned the case to Bailey, and ordered her to review the disputed documents behind closed doors and determine what information in them is subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

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