CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Supreme Court will decide if the State Police will be allowed to keep internal investigation information about State Troopers private.

The High Court heard arguments Tuesday on a case originally filed by the Charleston Gazette. The newspaper continually sought information about complaints against Troopers and the investigations but was denied. A Kanawha County circuit judge ruled in favor of the State Police.

Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman said Tuesday she found it “troubling” the information isn’t released especially after investigations are concluded.

“If the public doesn’t have the right to know anything about any of these complaints—that just seems like it’s not in the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act,” Workman said.

State Police attorney Virginia Lanham argued opening the files would hurt the scope of the investigations.

“You want candor. You want the employee to be able to say, ‘This is what occurred. This is what didn’t work and we need to change the way we do things,’” Lanham said.

But Gazette attorney Sean McGinley argued there should be no difference between Troopers, who have the files closed, and doctors and lawyers who have complaints against them open for the public to see.

“There’s no reason to treat police officers any different than a complaint against a lawyer or a doctor,” McGinley said. “This is just part of the American democratic process of transparency and that’s why these documents should be made public.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a written opinion on the case later this year.

 

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Comments

  • Bill

    Very few State Police are college graduates.

  • Gertie

    Long story short, several years ago I had an incident with a WVSP Lieutenant who issued me a speeding citation out of retaliation for simply asking him a question about his speeding (he testified in court to going 85) without the use of his lights for safety. I fought the ticket in court and won. This was clearly an incident of harassment and intimidation. Following the court process, I filed a complaint with the WVSP. I was visited by the internal affairs officer but I have no idea what happened to that officer other than knowing that the dirty cop is still on the force.

    Recently, I merely asked a WV State Trooper a question about a law that I didn't think he was following prior to my entering a department store. In retaliation, he parked outside of the department store where I had gone in to shop. When I came out and started driving away, he initiated a traffic stop and issued me a citation for not having a registration card signed. I won't waste my time this time with filing a complaint with the WVSP. Instead, I'm going to the FBI and ask them to investigate the Trooper for Title 18 USC violations (including his supervisor), Sec. 241 and 242. Personnel such as these men are a disgrace to the force and tarnish the perception of those great officers who truly do a good job for the people. Thank you.

    • Jonus Grumby

      As a general rule, I am very pro-law enforcement. However, it seems there are many people with badges & guns out there who do not deserve to be police officers. They need to be weeded out and dismissed (and prosecuted if necessary). When it becomes economically impractical to keep dirty cops on the payroll, things will change.

  • Monty

    Allowing the Sun to shine on these reports may not reveal truthful statements by a trooper's comments who is under investigation but, a more intricate web woven by WVSP deceit may be revealed. The argument of the WVSP: State Police attorney Virginia Lanham argued opening the files would hurt the scope of the investigations.

  • Troy S

    Pigs lie.

  • Joke.

    If a cop knows his in investigation will be kept secret, he has more motivation to beat someone.

    Open the files and watch the abuse drop. Also see what the police covered up when they're open.

  • Barbie Akers

    I think the public should know who the State Troopers are, when they beat the people who they are arresting. I know many people, that the Police have stopped in route to the jail, and beat, the person, pepper spray them, and sit them beside a mud hole in handcuffs, and run their police cars through mud holes and splash them.
    Of course, the Police is always right, because they always say the person was resisting arrest.
    I could add things that the Police have done to me, but for fear of retaliation, I will not mention them. The Public should know about their dirty work.

  • Bald Headed Pig Cop

    We should be able to keep our actions private from the citizens. Its the American way.