City attorney makes news for public records practices

“The job of police officers is to provide public safety … Not to provide a record for you to do your story.”

That’s what Dallas Assistant City Attorney Warren Ernst told The Dallas Morning News in April 2012. He was voicing his support for a police practice that allowed employees to permanently destroy emails. Not surprisingly, public records advocates pounced, saying the rule failed the “common sense smell test.”

Ernst, now Dallas’ city attorney, was back in the news last week for complaints about how he handles public records. This time, city council members were the ones taking him to task, noting that “Dallas has been known to file among the most challenges in the state of open records requests,” according to DallasNews.com’s City Hall blog.

“I believe in upholding the Public Information Act as well as you do,” Ernst told council members.

Let’s hope council members and The Dallas Morning News hold him to that.

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