Iowa’s public safety commissioner says he will consider better ways of releasing information to the public about arrests and incidents involving state police, says the Des Moines Register. The statement came after the register’s inquiry into a policy that has kept almost all of the agency’s reports confidential. Commissioner Kevin Techau said sees “no reason” to release reports from investigations into allegations of misconduct against police or prosecutors. Many law enforcement agencies in and outside of Iowa make available to the public reports that provide basic information about incidents handled by officers. The Iowa Department of Public Safety releases a limited amount of information orally but generally does not release reports.
Open-records advocates say the agency’s failure to release reports involving state police means the public has little insight into the thousands of incidents, crashes, crimes, and investigations its agencies handle every year. For years, the public safety department, by referring to most of its reports as “investigative,” has successfully shielded much information from public view. In the past year, the Register made repeated requests for a variety of reports on incidents handled by the agency. Among the reports of interest were those created during now-closed criminal investigations into public officials, some of whom were ousted or were found liable in civil courts for their indiscretions.