- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Police logs should be open to the public, a South Dakota Senate committee recommended Tuesday.

State law currently gives law enforcement agencies the discretion to release information about calls for service to the public. The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to make release of that information mandatory, meaning any law enforcement agency that maintains such a log must make it available to the public.

The measure’s main sponsor, Sen. Craig Tieszen, a retired Rapid City police chief, said such information has been made public in that city as long as he can remember.

“Taxpayers have a right to know the kind of work their law enforcement community is doing,” Tieszen said.

Police logs can include information that reveals the date, time, general location and general subject of calls for service. They do not reveal names or specific addresses.

The committee added language to the bill preventing police logs from including information that would identify people involved in police calls dealing with mental health, chemical dependency or abuse interventions.

Dave Bordewyk, general manager of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, said many law enforcement agencies routinely provide police logs and some newspapers publish that information. He said small, rural law enforcement agencies might not keep logs, and the bill would not force them to start.

A similar bill was rejected by the Legislature last year, mostly because of objections to another part of the measure that would have made police mug shots public.

In Tuesday’s committee hearing, the bill was supported by the South Dakota Police Chiefs Association, the South Dakota Sheriffs Association and representatives of Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said his department not only provides information about calls for service to news organizations, but also places it on the Internet so the public can read it.

“Calls for service information is very basic information that when released will help the public gain some confidence in the law enforcement agency,” Allender said.

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