Michigan State Police a finalist for ‘Most Secretive Public Agency’ award

click to enlarge Michigan State Police on patrol in Lansing in 2021. - TT News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

TT News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

Michigan State Police on patrol in Lansing in 2021.

The Michigan State Police has earned the dubious distinction of being one of the nation’s most secretive public agencies for refusing to disclose public records about the identities of current and former officers.

The grassroots nonprofit organization Investigative Reporters and Editors announced Thursday that the state agency is among five finalists for the Golden Padlock Award, an annual celebration of “the most secretive public agency or official in the U.S.”

MSP earned the ignoble accolade by rejecting a Freedom of Information Act request by Metro Times and Invisible Institute, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit organization. The news organizations filed a lawsuit against state police in November for failing to disclose the names of all certified and uncertified officers in Michigan, along with information about their employment history, among other information.

In an unusual move, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sided with the news organizations’ lawsuit, filing a motion in support of releasing the public records in April.

The other finalists are the Georgia Department of Corrections, Los Angeles city attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto, former Marion (Kansas) Police Chief Gideon Cody, and the Hawaii Department of Human Services.

“This group of finalists have exhibited unique ingenuity in their attempts to ensure the public is left in the dark about important issues impacting their communities,” Golden Padlock committee chair Robert Cribb said. “Their commitment to secrecy is matched only by the impassioned work of journalists fighting to make it public.”

Michigan is no stranger to secrecy. In fact, the Golden Padlock Award went to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the city of Detroit in 2020 after top officials intentionally destroyed public records related to the nonprofit Make Your Date.

In 2019, Michigan State University received the Golden Padlock Award for “keeping sweeping sexual assault scandals under tight wraps, including serial abuse by disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar and hundreds of student complaints against faculty, staff and students,” IRE Executive Director Doug Haddix wrote at the time.

Metro Times couldn’t reach MSP for comment, but we congratulate the state agency for its devotion to secrecy, especially at a time when police misconduct is a top issue for many residents.

The FOIA request is part of an ongoing Metro Times investigation into “wandering cops,” or officers who move from department to department amid allegations of misconduct.

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