A new Massachusetts State Police policy withholds from the public the names of drivers involved in a crash unless they are charged, cited or killed, reports the Boston Globe. For years, police have routinely identified all drivers involved in crashes, even minor ones. But David Procopio, the agency’s director of communications, changed that policy this spring, saying he wanted to preserve the privacy of individuals who are not the subject of a public action, like a criminal charge or a civil citation. But government transparency advocates say it’s only the latest step to limit the public’s access to information about what government is doing.
“There is a growing tendency of government agencies to keep information private, rather than to keep it public,” said Robert Ambrogi, executive director of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association. “The basic assumption of the law is that government information is public. They’re doing the work of the public and that is information that we as members of the public are entitled to.” The policy change comes as the State Police are under increased scrutiny for its handling of record requests. Last month, Investigative Reporters & Editors gibed the agency for “going to extraordinary lengths to thwart public records requests, protect law enforcement officers and public officials who violate the law and block efforts to scrutinize how the department performs its duties.”