- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - A judge has ruled that an Arkansas State Police public information officer committed five civil violations of the Freedom of Information Act last year when he relied on a “blanket policy” and failed to give valid reasons for not releasing dashcam videos.

Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor ordered the state police to release the videos Monday in five of six cases being overseen by attorney W. Whitfield Hyman. Tabor dismissed a complaint against an Arkansas State Trooper that was still under investigation.

Hyman sued Bill Sadler for rejecting his Freedom of Information Act requests on the grounds they were exempt as part of an ongoing investigation. Hyman argued an investigation terminated with an arrest.

In a hearing last month, Sadler said state police policy was that a criminal investigation was ongoing until it was determined in court or a prosecutor dropped the charges.

Tabor agreed it was “proper” that the Arkansas State Police keep “all investigations open and ongoing until a criminal case has been adjudicated,” and “all criminal cases are closed the moment an arrest is made,” but found that “each case should be reviewed on an individual basis to determine if a particular investigation remains open.”

The “testimony revealed the only basis for failing to produce the requested videos was the blanket policy of the state police that every investigation remains open pending adjudication,” Tabor wrote.

Sadler said state police officials haven’t met with legal counsel in the Arkansas Attorney General’s office to review the case.

“Meanwhile, in the coming weeks, we will meet internally to discuss options that will conform with Judge Tabor’s decision,” Sadler wrote in the email.

Sadler said the Arkansas State Police receives about 700 requests a year for various items through the Freedom of Information Act and 95 percent of them are from attorneys.

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