The Citizen Police Review Board is expected to decide early next week whether or not it will appeal a recent Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court decision to deny the watchdog group access to unredacted documents concerning arrests and police tactics during the G-20 Summit in 2009.
Judge Johnny J. Butler's Dec. 28 ruling, which upholds a lower-court opinion issued last year, argues that the G-20 records sought by the board were protected from being released to non-law enforcement agencies under the state Criminal History Record Information Act. The judge did not buy the CPRB's argument that, because Pittsburgh abides by Home Rule Charter, the state act did not apply in the G-20 case.
"[T]he CHRIA supersedes the City's Home Rule Charter," Butler concluded in his opinion, "and the trial court did not err by denying the Board's request for intelligence, investigative and treatment information protected by the CHRIA."
The case dates back to November 2009, when the CPRB formally requested the G-20 reports from the city's Office of Municipal Investigations to investigate the city's handling of the high-profile G-20 Summit. After initially refusing to hand over the requested materials, the city eventually handed over some documents following a March 2010 court order.
The city, however, still withheld 309 pages of police reports. But when city officials finally handed them over in May 2010, after another legal threat from the CPRB, there was a problem: Their contents were covered in black ink, redactions that rendered most of the documents useless.
How useless? Well, you be the judge. Here are a few of the 309 disputed pages.