Court: Pa. troopers have to disclose moonlighting
The state Commonwealth Court has told state police it has to release records showing work its employees do while off duty, writes Marc Levy of The Associated Press.
The court’s recent ruling sided with the state’s Office of Open Records, which ruled that The Associated Press could have the records. The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association had taken the matter to court, saying that if people knew where troopers worked while off-duty, they could use the information to harm the troopers.
But the AP, which asked for the information, suggested police could withhold the names and scheduled of troopers who were involved in undercover work.
More from Levy’s story:
.the court’s majority opinion written by Judge Johnny J. Butler said the union and state police did not prove that releasing the records would endanger troopers, particularly after the AP suggested that the state police could withhold the names and schedules of troopers involved in undercover work.
’While we appreciate the potential danger PSP troopers may face on and off-duty, the evidence submitted in this case does not establish that disclosure of the supplementary employment forms and supporting documents, … when appropriately redacted, make it more likely than not that PSP employees are at a risk of substantial and demonstrable risk of physical harm or to their personal security,’ Butler wrote.
AP’s lawyer Gayle Sproul said the court took very seriously a requirement that an agency that wants to withhold records provide evidence of a “substantial and demonstrable risk of physical harm,” rather than relying on examples with circumstances that were not present in this case.
Troopers’ social security numbers and home addresses also would be withheld.
An Office of Open Records appeals officer said in her decision last year that state police may legally black out home addresses of law-enforcement officers and Social Security numbers for all employees. But she said state police failed to establish that information about outside jobs is protected by exemptions in the state Right-to-Know Law.
A lawyer for the troopers’ union, Todd Eagen, said Monday he did not know yet whether the union would appeal to the state Supreme Court. Union president Bruce Edwards said in a statement that he could not comment at length because he had not had a chance to thoroughly review the court’s opinion.
“The PSTA believes the safety of troopers and their families should concern all Pennsylvanians,” Edwards said.
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