The Hattiesburg American, 2/21/8

Mississippi legislators who HELPED open government bills clear Tuesday’s crucial deadline hurdle are to be commended. A key measure pushed by the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information and the Mississippi Press Association (of which the Hattiesburg American is a member) is House Bill 474.

The bill makes law enforcement incident reports public records. Getting it through the Legislature would be a small, but significant step, in removing the cloak of secrecy that shrouds Mississippi government.

The bill simply requires law enforcement agencies to provide basic details of crimes. Here is the actual language of the bill as it pertains to incident reports: “‘Incident report’ means a narrative description of an alleged offense, and at a minimum shall include the name and identification of each person charged with or arrested for the alleged offense, the time, date and location of the alleged offense, the property involved, the vehicles involved, and the names of the investigating officers.”