This is an email I sent off to a number of people today:
"This is a unique document attached to this email by the Sheriff of Hennepin County. It highlights a number of reasons why to destroy emails, one being to "mitigate risk". Could that mean finding out about questionable behavior such as their facial recognition program implementation which the public and Hennepin County Commissioners did not know about? There other examples I know and can think of.
Another part of the policy says that emails saved for "legitimate law enforcement / business purposes. Granted one can designate their communication any way they want......but this is not a classification for secrecy or make data not available to the public. Important that this new designation not be used as a preventive move for people to get access to public data.
The technical destruction may happen or begin December 1st, 2016.
So why a public interest?
It appears that the Sheriff wants to obliterate the past and control what the public should have access to. (30 day destruction and by having less data to go through based on a request)
Emails have the ability to spell out rationale for policies and initiatives. Absence of documentation on concerns and issues can hinder the public right to know, but also ability to see and understand why.
Emails can detail a trail of individuals and the appropriate ones that have been informed of a problem, situation, or responsibility. The Flint water crisis is an example that shows this through Michigan authorities release of emails. As so happens many times the public becomes belatedly to knowledge or discover bad or questionable action done by government. This why data such as emails matters a great deal.
Data such as emails matter in the context of financial accountability, but also of historic framework: putting together how something came about, for example, the Sheriff's facial recognition program or the social media surveillance program known as GeoFeedia that appears the agency is involved with.
Information matters, but when that data is destroyed in such a short time as the Sheriff Rich Stanek is doing, even Hennepin County, the ability of oversight and the power to take the data, a way of self-governing accountability is not achieved.
The link for the Hennepin County Sheriff destruction of email policy.