Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Free workshop using FOIA with law enforcement agencies

In many activities which the government uses its power, it's when it investigates and enforces violation of law. There is a need for transparency and accountability when this happens for a number of reasons.  The law can be a state statute, city or county ordinances, or rules or regulations being implemented by an agency.

Abuse of power, selective enforcement, discriminatory practices, and how effective enforcement  activities are among many points is important for the public to know about.  To have access to crucial information about how government operates, establishes priorities, and makes decisions in enforcement activities is essential for oversight.

The Minnesota Legislature deemed it important that transparency promotes scrutiny and gives the residents of the state, information about what their government is doing, a major rationale why there is a Minnesota Government Data Practices  Act.

There are enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Minnesota Department of Commerce,  and in local venues in housing and law enforcement.  Information can be sought from any of the agencies I described, for example, a data request I madewith the Hennepin County Sheriffs Office and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension about cell phone (spy) surveillance devices brought to the attention to policymakers and public the use of these devices.  This brought to the 2014 Minnesota Legislature meaningful debate over government surveillance powers, which continued through this years session on license plate readers.  When government uses such powers for enforcement, the public must be able to have answer basic questions about the government’s current use of such powers.

You can learn how to use the basics of data practices by attending a free and public workshop, details below.

"PRM to host public records workshop in Minneapolis, MN

May 18, 2015

St. Paul, Minnesota – On June 11, 2015, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public
Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at
the North Regional Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The event will be
held in the library’s North Regional Meeting Room, and will run from
6:30pm-8:00pm.  The North Regional Library is located at 1315 Lowry Ave.
N. in Minneapolis.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws (both
Minnesota data Practices Act and federal) to obtain government records of interest to them. A particular focus of the workshop will be on government entities that have an enforcement function – including police, housing, and related agencies. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-timerecord requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by members of the PRM board.

The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring
ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are encouraged by
calling 651-556-1381.

PRM’s workshop is one in a series of events that the organization is
hosting throughout the state under a grant from the Washington DC-based
Sunlight Foundation. Past events have been hosted in Rochester and St.
Cloud.

Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that
conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education."

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