Badger Project sues La Crosse police over open records

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The managing editor of a journalism nonprofit called The Badger Project has filed a lawsuit against the La Crosse Police Department claiming it violated open records law when it refused to turn over records pertaining to the investigation into a former officer.

Peter Cameron, who is being represented by attorney Thomas Kamenick of the Wisconsin Transparency Project, says the La Crosse Police Department wrongly denied his request for copies of public records pertaining to a police officer who resigned on April 4, 2019. Cameron filed a complaint in La Crosse County Circuit Court on Sept. 30 of this year.

“Cameron has a clear legal right to receive the records he requested and La Crosse Police Department has a plain legal duty to produce them,” according to the complaint.

Cameron filed the request on May 18 via the La Crosse Police Department’s Open Records Center and was denied May 19. The police department cited “internal disciplinary” as the reason for the denial.

“Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled once again that internal disciplinary records cannot be withheld completely from requests. The public has a strong interest in learning about misconduct by government employees and officials, as well as reviewing the disciplinary process itself to ensure it is thorough and fair. Hopefully the La Crosse Police Department relents and turns over the records the Badger Project is seeking,” said Kamenick in a statement.

La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds declined to be interviewed on Thursday, saying the city cannot comment on pending litigation.

Read the full complaint here: #2 2021-09-30 Summons and Petition

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