Today marks the beginning of Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative to highlight the public’s right to know. Local news outlets such as this newspaper serve as stewards of the public’s interest in knowing what their government is up to.
The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications is hosting a virtual event at 6:30 on Monday night celebrating Sunshine Week. Information on panel guests and registration can be found at LoebSchool.org. We encourage our readers to attend this event and to partake of Sunshine Week stories in this newspaper and across all media.
The Loeb School event is titled “Keeping the Light On: Holding Government Accountable.” This is a great summary of the crucial role the free press plays in a functional democracy.
Darkness can hide many evils. To highlight this we are kicking off Sunshine Week by using a substantial amount of ink to print the “Laurie List” as the public can currently see it. Known more formally as the “Exculpatory Evidence Schedule,” this is a list of current and former police officers whose conduct has raised credibility issues. The list is maintained by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office so criminal defendants in cases involving these problematic officers can be informed of credibility issues in preparing their defense.
Recent court rulings and some efforts by the Legislature and the governor’s Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency have pushed the list closer to public release. Still, the redaction blocks (and extra ink) below ,tell the story.
Names and identifying information of officers remain hidden under those blocks. An exception to New Hampshire’s Right to Know law for personnel files keeps it that way, for now.
Residents of communities with officers on the list for things such as excessive force, egregious dereliction of duty, criminal conduct, or falsifying physical evidence would like to know who those officers are and if they are still patrolling the streets. We think they have a right to know.
At this newspaper we like to treat every week as Sunshine Week, and will never stop fighting to shine our light into the darkness. There remains much worth fighting to expose.