When: Columbia Borough Council meeting, July 14.
What happened: Council President Heather Zink announced the borough police department’s use-of-force policy, with certain sections redacted with a black marker, will be made publicly available July 17 on the borough website.
Background: In a July 1 LNP | LancasterOnline story, councilperson Sharon Lintner said she had been blocked from accessing Columbia Police Department’s use-of-force policy since she first began trying to see a copy on June 4. The story quoted police Chief Jack Brommer as saying the police department considered the policy “an operational and internal document” and was not prepared to make it public. The story also quoted Erik Arneson, executive director of the state Office of Open Records, as saying the agency has ruled use-of-force policies are public records, subject to some redaction of certain information, such as information pertaining to officer safety.
Why it matters: Across the United States, citizens have been urging municipalities to make their use-of-force policies public as part of an effort to reduce police brutality against Black Americans since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police.
Citizen comments: Five borough residents made public comments during the July 14 meeting, all calling for the use-of-force policy to be made public. All the citizens indicated they were not anti-police, but that releasing the policy was necessary. Two citizens, husband and wife Scott and Shelley Frederick, expressed concern at what might be redacted from the policy before it’s made publicly available.
Quotable: “The lack of transparency suggests to the general public there is something to hide,” said Shelley Frederick, referencing the redactions in the use-of-force policy.